Frumpy Friday Summary

Door county welcomed us magnificently last week. Can you spot the moon? It appeared triple in size, so the photo doesn’t translate fully, but is still lovely, I feel. Honey lost his job the day before we took this planned vacation (his new company appears to be trimming after a merger). I am weighing supporting the family and serving the Lord (at least a little bit), by doing some work outside the home. Apparently, women for centuries and in cultures all over the world have contributed to economic needs. Whether this is God’s will for our specific family at this specific time is a major question. It would be so much easier if I had planted a bigger garden! Then, I would be canning veggies right now, and BOOM, economic contribution would be in the bag, er, jar. ūüėČ

Little man explores his newly-lengthened pj’s. I found a relatively simple, DIY way to extend the life of footy pajamas by cutting them near the feet and inserting a new swatch of fabric. It’s something of a hack job, and when I accidentally put the first couple of seams on the outside instead of in, it became more so. : D Oh,well! The net effect is the same, and so much better than spending an abominable amount of time with a seam ripper.

The art on the wall is cut cardboard and paint. Wow! So simple, so effective. It did a lot for the medical waiting room that we were in a few days back. Again, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

We did plant a few rows of carrots. Not only did these two come up white, but check out the one on the right! The weave of the stems was intricate and lovely, just like our Lord’s quiet plan for us. I know he holds us in the inner palm of his hand, and so why, then, shall I worry about money?

God love you,



Learning about Toddler Sleep


Good morning!

Our son turns 2 very soon, and we recently experienced an epiphany regarding his sleep. The nurse practitioner at Target confirmed that an ear infection had cleared, but that fluid remained in one ear. He suggested that I contact our pediatrician about allergy medication to help dry him out and, hopefully, remove the discomfort that the fluid can cause. We did, and she agreed that it may not only prevent his frequent midnight wakings, but put him in a better spot to eat well and (finally) gain weight. You see, his weight has been under the curve for his age for much of his life.

I am happy to report that he is waking less often at night, and also that he is growing! Praise God!

Another thing I am remembering from when our daughter was 18 – 36 months old: she frequently woke early in the morning, fussing. Too early, according to her parent’s gauge. (I know you all know how important our sleep gauges are!) My husband finally figured out that she didn’t need comfort, she didn’t need questions about how she was doing and cajoling to just go back to sleep, already. She needed to be told, firmly that she was still tired, that it was still *night time* (again, we as the parents were the gauge of that ūüėČ ), and that she needed, right now, to lie down and go back to sleep.

It totally worked. Each time he was firm, she slept for at least another 30 minutes. It was a welcome reprieve for all.

I want to share these couple of items in case they help another family.

That’s all for now, folks!

Blessings to you,



A lawn mower, a random play date, and hangry-ness.


Feeling quite discouraged about not being a light to my neighbors, I hurried to church with our almost two year old. (Ask me sometime about the beached whale style dive I made into my car instead of introducing myself to the new family on the block. And other graceful stories.) Back to the current story: we walk the block and a half to get there, and we are always late. He stopped to check out a lawnmower on the sidewalk, and as he fascinates over it the owner comes up, apologizes, asks if we are going to church (yes), asks what I think of it (I like it. They have a cry room, and they are welcoming), and says he’s been getting an itch to maybe start going back. Turns out he was a lifelong, faithful churchgoer until his dad died.

I felt encouraged that I was there to talk with the guy. As a friend put it, “I think the Lord meets us where we are at.” Continue reading

If You Do Just One Thing Today

“If you do just one thing…” It’s a phrase I’ve taken great comfort in ever since reading the marvelous column about this in Real Simple magazine, back in the day when I was a devotee of the mag. At the time, it just really helped me to focus my swirling mental list of stuff that I was stressed about accomplishing, whether it be in the apartment, my social/family life, or at work, and usually, all of the above at once. I could grab one task out of the chaos, focus on it, finish it, and move on to the next one.

It was quite a transition to go from working woman to mother, and a stay at home mom, at that, especially because it happened quite suddenly in my case. Two and a half months after getting hitched, we learned that we were expecting. And within¬†2 weeks of that, I was on bed rest until our little honey was full term. Given my pre-term labor, all I could do was “nothing”. Except, that is, cerebrally prepare for motherhood. But for whatever reason, I seemed incapable of even mentally preparing for a¬†baby, much less adapting gracefully to¬†this sudden new stage in our life. I didn’t have¬†that 7-9 month¬†transition period¬†to bid farewell to the working world, ease into¬†marriage,¬†and work out the logistics of welcoming new life. When a discerning friend later¬†empathized, “you didn’t have the mental energy. You were exhausted even as you lay there.” I¬†was greatly comforted because then suddenly what seemed like 7 months of slovenly-ness was clarified into a very simple state of letting my body rest so that we could have a healthy baby. Nothing more, but also nothing less. Continue reading

The Holy Spirit Inspires Us to Greater Elephants


We are on day 3 of pacifier detox!!!!! And it is totally the Lord. I mean, man, do I ever get a surprise every time we attempt this. I didn’t learn the first time that my ways are not His ways, so naturally I was hemming and hawing and stressing and guilting over still letting our son have a nuk for naps and at night. The plotting and scheming for the Great Detoxification Event can only be described as a category 10 mental furry. ¬†The deadline of having to go in for his 18 month appointment – and face the doctor’s questions – has only made me more anxious, because we are going in 1.5 months¬†late, and at his 15 month appointment we were already¬†supposed to have weaned him of it, apparently, which means I am even more of a lazy looser.¬†I was convinced it would be supremely difficult for our first, and then I was¬†convinced it would be astronomically more difficult than¬†that,¬†for little man, for many reasons that were very logical and based in objective observation.

Then there’s this elephant (see above). This darn elephant has been my faithful companion for over 3 years. I have kept it in the diaper bag for use at a moment’s notice. I have found it hidden in the diaper bag and dutifully repatriated¬†it for my little teething honeys. I have coaxed, encouraged, ordered them to use the darn thing. And they act like it doesn’t exist. Both the little stinkers. Despite my best efforts. Until a couple days ago. We were in the basement (miracle #1, since I dislike basements), and all the sudden little man is gnawing on that blessed elephant as if his life depends on it. It looked to me like “the beginning of a lifelong romance” (name that movie!), but I decided not to get my hopes up. It went to bed with him, and him without his pacifier, but he howled for over 15 minutes, and we caved because Daddy was feeling sick and I was feeling crazy.

But we tried again yesterday, when things were more calm for all. He had no paci, he had that darn elephant. And he only woke once. I found his new friend, and he went right back down to sleep!

…[just a little more saga here, folks! I do have a point. Hang in there!]…

This morning was tough on all of us, mostly because my temper flares so easily over the slightest issue, and our friends, due to visit, were an eternity away from rescuing me. But as I put little man down for his nap, I couldn’t help but note that he was being so very dear, giving me hugs and acting like I was doing him a big favor by letting him sleep. And I couldn’t help but flash my camera at him to capture the moment of blessed pacifier freedom, now so ingrained as habit that I am calling it a success.

And I saw the Holy Spirit. He reminded me how truly easy this process has been. He suggested that maybe he was involved from the beginning, inspiring Joshy to find the thing in the basement, and finally take to the thing! He thereby comforted and calmed me from the tornadoes of the past few days. I thought, “well, it isn’t all bad”, and “I haven’t totally screwed up¬†everything“. “See? He’s successfully weaned from his paci. Thank you Lord!”

And then he wailed again. No way?! WAY! I thought from the sound of the cries that he was probably not, after all, ready to give up the paci. Luckily, having just experienced the above, I had the presence of mind to look at my watch so that I could time it and figure out what to do Рlater Рbased on scientific measurements of length of wailing. And in the meantime I decided to make peace with my daughter, and offered that we read together. And while we were reading together, at some point, the wailing ceased. They are now both, blessedly, slumbering, and I am again claiming full nuk detox.

Thank the Lord. He cares about paci detox!  And the Holy Spirit knows about neglected elephants who are well qualified for the job! Can I get an Amen?




How We Got through the Winter, Sort of

Last April, a visiting friend asked, “So, how did you survive the winter?” I didn’t have the guts to tell the whole truth, which is that, “we didn’t.” I mean, we’re still alive and all, but the winter of 2014-2015 was really, really hard. We handled it poorly. As summer was coming to a close this year, I was already tensly anti-anticipating the cold and isolation, knowing that I hadn’t really recovered from last winter.¬† I’m going to tell you this story to help with hope. There is hope! (And please, don’t pitty me. I do that plenty for both of us. Plus, pity is futile, so I’ve stopped that. I’m trying to stop that. I’m sort-of stopping that. ;))

By Thanksgiving of 2014, the situation was this: we had a very new (to us) home that wasn’t homey, an even newer baby, a toddler who was waking at o’dark thirty every night, several home issues including one which kicked us out of the house for 2 weeks, a crazy new diet for this nursing mom that seemed medically necessary yet impossible, and a baby who screamed – ear shatteringly – every time I put him down. Continue reading

What the Psalms are Teaching Me about Mission


“We’re on a mission from GOD”.

Name that movie!

Okay, I’ll spill the answer. It’s from The Blues Brothers, which we watched a few days back and enjoyed immensely. And, while some of the actions of these bros are unmentionable, the very fact that they are on a¬† “mission from GOD” is enviable. (Don’t you find it so? Maybe it’s just so for me.) As I wrote about on my personal blog, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for [never mind the fact – that I’m even looking – is rather strange]. You see, I am looking for a mission, a research project, some big goals, or ANYTHING and any NUMBER of things that are important, that I can focus on. It’s somehow an integral part of my worldview. I suspect it has to do with wanting to BE important.¬† And so I have become really good at focusing on big projects, dotting every “I” and crossing every “T”. In short, in obsessing over the mission.

As you may know, I’ve been reading the Psalms this summer [What? It’s no longer summer? Nevermind]. I’m up to Psalm 127:

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

3 Lo, sons are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Sitting in our lovely sleeping porch one morning recently, I read this Psalm. And between wondering whether the kids were awake and, if so, whether they were getting themselves undressed, or, if not, whether they were getting out of their cribs, or, horror of horrors, both, I re-iterated to God that I don’t know what to do with myself. What’s MY mission? What should I focus on? The options for God to choose from in answering my question, as I see it, are the following: home projects such as organizing/unpacking/redecorating, learning how to repair approximately 20 holes in our plaster ceiling and walls, sewing, blogging like a banshee (ie: more and better), having people over for dinner, doing stuff with youth, outdoor projects (ie: winterizing), the battle of the bulges (ie: excercise), cook good meals regularly, getting our neighbors to like me (ie: baking for them), go on a mission trip and figure out how to leave the kids here so that I can go.

When my list circled back to something related to the kids (albeit it had to do with leaving them), I thought of their smiles. Both are exceptionally smiley. I thought, “hmmm, I definitely see the Lord in my kids. Do I see the Lord clearly in any of the other options? No. That’s odd. And what about my husband? He is supposed to come ahead of the kids in my priorities. Do I see the Lord clearly in him? Oh, yes. Yes I do!” As a matter of fact, I could think of several examples just in the last 2 weeks when Erik really shone with the Lord’s light. But, you know, I think this Psalm is calling me to put my work into where the Lord is, and I am not convinced he’s behind that lengthy laundry list above. So, I will focus on my husband and children. That’s obvious.

“But, Lord, that’s not enough. Can’t I do something more important?” Obvious as it seems, it is taking God some time to convince me that this can be my sole focus.

Enter Psalm 131:

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

[PS: Psalms in the 120s and 130s are short, pithy, and awesome! As I’ve read through the entire book from the beginning, it seems like a distinct segment. And I have to admit that the change is refreshing.]

Getting to be okay with this is an ongoing process. A friends pointed out last week the importance of evangelizing our children. I’ve never thought about raising kids being equivalent to evangelism. It helps to take the long view in this. I like that. Also, I’ve had the sense in prayer and also from our area deliverance prayer that the Lord really wants to focus on love with me. As in He loves me. That’s a huge thing that I’m trying to figure out right now. All the rest is straw, I guess, in comparison.

Today, this afternoon, now that dinner is all ready to go into the oven, I think that I’m okay with this focus. It helps that having to limit my focus in this way is – I hope – temporary. When the kids go down for their naps and I’m wandering around our cluttered house, and the options for what to do are racing through my brain, I stop (metaphorically) and consider whether the emotional and physical needs of my family are being met. If there’s more to do to meet them (such as make dinner), I straight-away decide to do that first. As I get into habits of dinner-making and spiritual-supporting for my family, I can take on other things for the Lord. Along the way, I am learning to submit my desires for these accomplishments to the Lord, and wait for his response as to whether he is interested in doing them with me. And I am well aware that as soon as someone in the house gets sick, all those other things go out the window!¬† It also helps that I can sneak in some unrelated tasks as I have time. Just now I hung some shelves in my closet sewing room. I hope that’s not cheating. Is that cheating, Lord? Lemme know when you get a chance.

Thank you,


Mary Clare

PS: The photo in this post is what I found one morning this week upon finishing my Psalm prayer time and going to get the kids out of bed. One of those cribs does not belong where it was: squarely in front of the door! How did it get there?

Frumpy Friday Summer Summary (Again)

3/4 of us have mild fevers this week, and the ENT we saw last week was not at all concerned about his lip tie, but he had a double ear infection, with teething, following a cold, and followed up by a cold, which we noticed on his birthday, and checked again for ear infection on Monday but didn’t find it, which we found out today has become another double ear infection, despite being on a strong antibiotic for the first double ear infection the entire time. Confused? Me too.

So, let’s simplify and let the photos speak, in no particular order:


This is my kids playing with new toys from Josh’s 1st birthday party. Balloons, Duplos, a hand-made stuffed bee puzzle toy, instruments: what could be better?! We haven’t played with old toys all week. To come downstairs and see this was, for me, super rewarding. Kinda like being a kid at Christmas.

Which brings up a burning question: why won’t our 2 year old play with the toy food and range that she’s had since Christmas?

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I am not in a habit of doing this. “This”, here, includes: turning the camera on myself, washing my hair (the results of which you see in the hairstyle), sitting in front of our sleeping porch windows while my family eats dinner, almost falling out the window, being seen by multiple neighbors. I have no explanation.

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The light, especially the shiny yellows from the above-mentioned perch, were lovely.  This gives only a hint, but enjoy!


There they are. The two men in my life. Love ’em. Even though one (I won’t mention who to protect their privacy) has begun to crawl up our very steep stairs all by his big self. Many times a day. Very quickly. And he doesn’t know how to climb down.

I have an unrelated question: how will I ever get anything done around here given this development?

And here’s an unrelated observation: until the climbing started, for the sake of sanity, I placidly brushed off those things people tell you when they hear you will have two who are close in age (ie: “you’ll be busy”). Now, one year on, I understand.


I could always find obliging smile-ers at our party for the little rascal.


Yep. Great smiles. Great folks.


And now, for the food! We grew most of the carrots you see above. Thanks to the inspiration of Pinterest, they are arranged kinda interestingly and seasonally. Please tell me you recognize the shape.


I have a question. Can you guess what this is? Love handles and all? (Other than “deliciousness”?)


I may be despairing of her ever playing with the kitchen toys, but I needn’t have despaired of her drumming on a bucket, even though I did despair of it! Not only has it happened (once), but I have proof. So at least we’re half normal.


Nose + cheek + upper lip + little hanies (hands) + fat foot with pointed toe bottoms = too much!


The above two pictures were taken at a Touch a Truck event. She’s tentatively excited about the police cruiser. Which gives you 1/100th of an idea of her level of interest when she saw cupcakes at the same event.


I love that my mother in law lets her wear her real necklaces.


Room Re-arrangement of the Month Club, view A. The pirate corner has been dispersed, and I’m slightly in mourning about it.


Room Re-arrangement of the Month Club, view B.


Making clutter and the We-Still-Haven’t-Finished-Moving-In style look sorta intentional. It’s important. To me. Probably none of our 18 guests noticed. Regardless, this photo brings peace to a corner of my soul (when I can ignore the bespeckled-with-mess carpet).


The light + those lovely faces + toddlers fat hands + dimples + remembering my mom’s beautiful hands holding her as a newborn! = contentment.


Here. This is what I mean. She left in a hurry after the birth to see to my ailing father, then showed up unanounced that night to hold her. Those hands have cared more and worked harder than any I’ve had the privilege of knowing.


He goes around the house pushing a car like a big boy. It surprises and delights me. I didn’t know they did this at such a young age!


I like to think that they both have Irish Twinkle Eyes. This’s a thing, right? Because if it isn’t, it should be. The world is a better place for it/them/twinkley eyes.

Love to you all,

Mary Clare


What It’s Like with Two (Kids) I

An early photo of one of us with two.

Whether conceiving your second child was long awaited or is a big surprise, you’re likely wondering how exactly it is going to go, and how well it is going to go, for all of you, when the new baby arrives. Several friends are expecting their seconds this year. So: Matt and Mary, Mike and Sarah, Pete and Christine, this one’s for you.

Your toddler is two and in her Sounds Phase because when you were descending the stairs together and she brushed against a heat register she liked the sound and you had read How to be a Great Parent by Dr. Nancy S. Buck when she was a baby because that’s when you had time or rather energy, and you don’t any more so even though the register is falling off the wall you let her make sounds and delay going downstairs because Dr. Buck encourages parents in the book to not say no so often because the kid’s desires are ok and it might even express a need for fun or freedom, so she plays it like an instrument and enjoys the sound until you entice her down the stairs with promises of a yummy snack likely containing sugar, but the concept of listening to the different sounds that things make when banged on has taken root.

And she is running around with a red heart shaped measuring cup that you got at a cute bridal shower long before she existed, doing who knows what because she is two and a child of you, and the baby is sitting between the dining room and the kitchen playing with something or other on the floor and you are just trying to get dinner done before Daddy gets home. It’s all about survival at this point and not burning the house down. As you ‘stir the gumbo’ you vaguely hear the baby squawk and see him reach as his older sister walks by and you slightly sternly adjoin him to calm down because he is okay because he doesn’t need the red heart shaped measuring cup because Rebecca had it first and he has other toys right there, and then you turn back to the ‘gumbo’ only a few minutes later to hear a more insistent squawking and this time as you half turn your attention towards that general direction you see said sister dashing off, this time with a slightly more guilty gate while brandishing said red plastic heart shaped measuring cup and you realize that in fact she is the one you ought to scold because in both incidences of squawking it is she who caused the hubub. She is using the read heart shaped plastic measuring cup to bang on brother’s head to hear and learn what sound it makes. But she is already out of sight when you finally put the pieces together, brother is half pacified since the concert disturbance has ceased, and daddy’s arrival is imminent, you really really, really hope, in fact why isn’t he home yet? And you can hardly keep from laughing your dupa off out loud because I guess any very young human would wonder what sound a red plastic heart shaped measuring cup makes on a smaller young human head, and you totally missed this interesting phenomenon the first time and it must have been fun for her, because she took the trouble to circle back and make the sound a second time.¬† So you vaguely say something in the general direction of the dining room to the two year old who has fled about not hitting her brother and you again tell said brother that he is okay all the while wondering why he trusts you after another instance of failing to protect him and then telling him the same thing regardless of responsibility about his okay state once the truth of his innocence is discovered.

And as you review the entire last 7.53 minutes or so you have no idea actually how long it was because every 5 minute interval between 3pm and 6:03 pm until Daddy gets home feel like 48 minutes and you think desperately again that if your spouse doesn’t walk through the door finally, finally –¬† late – at that exact minute you really will go crazy because you will forget to tell him about it and laugh about it after they go to bed if he doesn’t walk in that very next second but actually if the dinner burns in that next second you will forget to tell him even if he does come right away. So you review it again in your mind and think about dashing to the dining room to get the quote book to write it down but dinner might burn and the culprit might hear you laughing and think that banging on her brother’s head with a red heart shaped measuring cup is funny and therefore sanctioned so you review it again in your mind to remember it better to tell people about it and then you have to stop reviewing it in your mind because you laugh every time you think about it and if she catches you laughing she will think that banging on brother’s head not only makes an interesting sound, but is something Mommy enjoys which in fact you do enjoy but only in the company of adults as a story of What It’s Like with Two.

Mischievous look from number one while number two gazes at number one in admiration.