"Little boy, do you have any idea how much your mama loves you?" I find myself saying these words...constantly. It's hard to express the swell of emotion that these two little people create in me. Days like today make me want to try though. The days where we don't go anywhere, or have any obligations, and we just stay home and revel in the beauty of life here on our little piece of the world. The light in our backyard today was a.m.a.z.i.n.g, and Ben took my phone and started snapping pictures of Samuel and I playing in the yard. I love them so much because usually I am the one taking pictures! I wanted to post them all, but here are a few that I settled on.
Samuel comes to me at least 10 times a day, takes anything I might have out of my hand and sets it down , grabs my hand, and tugs me toward the door, begging to go outside. He comes alive when he is outside! He is happy to stay in the yard for hours if I let him; picking up sticks, puffing at dandelions, and bringing me leaves. As you may notice in the pictures above, he also takes his pants off as soon as the opportunity presents itself...just an all around natural guy ;)
As a former government major at a classical liberal arts college, and as a Christian, community is something that I have thought about quite a bit. What is it? What does it look like? Is it Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver, or some sort of Amish barn raising? I find that it is easy to idealize community, to the point where it is merely an unattainable concept.
But that's not what this post is about. See, I've realized that I can mourn over our society's increasing fragmentation and philosophize all day about the positive aspects of living in a community, be it economically/spiritually/emotionally, but that won't do a thing about whether or not I am actually a member of a community. Wendell Berry said it best (as usual):
"Community, I am beginning to understand, is made through a skill I have never learned or valued: the ability to pass time with people you do not and will not know well, talking about nothing in particular, with no end in mind, just to build trust, just to be sure of each other, just to be neighborly. A community is not something that you have, like a camcorder or a breakfast nook. No, it is something you do. And you have to do it all the time."
When the owner of the orchard that is just steps away from our house gave us permission to pick up apples for free, it took me about 2 seconds to know what I wanted to do: invite everybody we knew (or didn't know) over to pitch in and share in the bounty. And, despite Hurricane Joaquin's impeccable timing, that is exactly what we did! We had approximately 10 bushels of apples to turn into cider, pies, applesauce and apple butter, and with everybody's help, Apple Day was a smashing success (no pun intended) ;-)
Everybody who came left with something that had been made that day. And everybody who came got involved in the process at some point, regardless of their age. Things got messy, everybody was a little sticky, and the work wasn't always easy. But people who had only met each other 5 minutes before were making applesauce together, little (and big) kids flopped on their tummies for a game of chess, and there something undeniably sweet mingled in with the smell of baking pies and simmering apple butter. I looked around on Saturday and realized that what I was seeing was the essence of community. It didn't matter what year it was, or how geographically close we lived to each other, community was attained.
Thank you so much to everybody who came out and pitched in! You guys made the 1st Annual Apple Day happen, and we took a lot of notes on how we want to make it even better next year!
//and thank you to those who took pictures and shared them!! I was too busy to take any myself on the day of, and I'm grateful to have these//
Last Saturday, I had the honor of hosting a baby shower for a most lovely mama. From the day that I got a text brimming over with excitement at the news of her pregnancy, I knew that watching this lady become a mother was going to be something special. Our culture aims so much pressure and negativity at women who choose to become mothers, especially young mothers. Bearing the life of another isn't as fulfilling as living up your own life, so why bother? Having children is often equated with a loss of identity, a betrayal of one's dreams and ambitions. I felt the weight of that pressure more than once when I became pregnant with Samuel, and it stole away some of my bliss. It took me a while to realize that all the things they say about motherhood is true: you lose yourself, and you sacrifice oh so much, physically and emotionally. But at some point, one of the great paradoxes of life dawns on your heart: in losing yourself, you are found to be truly happy; in sacrificing yourself, you are given the gift of a heart that is filled with unimaginable love. To talk to Janey, and to look at her face, this is a knowledge that has already crept into her heart. It is inspiring to see a young woman embrace this life-changing event with the joy and confidence that Janey exudes. That is just one reason I was so excited to help plan this shower for Janey- because it wasn't just about Janey, it was about celebrating the life within her.
The other reason I was excited was of course because I adore Janey's style, and I couldn't wait to style the shower according to her tastes! When I was 14, I was a part of a girl's club (similar to the Girl Scouts) where you completed certain tasks in order to earn merit badges. I chose the task of helping to plan a baby shower for a mom that was expecting twins. I remember the thrill of picking out dollar store decorations, planning candy-bars-smashed-in-a-diaper games, and making sherbet and sprite punch, all things that my teenage self hoped would make it a special day for that mama. Well, I would like to think that my style has improved somewhat since then, but I was just as thrilled at the chance to make Janey feel loved by paying special care to the decor and flow of the party.
First, I wanted to make sure that any decor that I chose said "Janey", but I also wanted to keep the details as much of a surprise as possible. I went to her gift registry page for inspiration, and met with her mom who was a huge help in determining the right feel for everything, and working out the details. The words that I scribbled down in my planning book were "minimalist" "neutral" "woodlands" and "floral". I then added my own word for how I envisioned the shower: "whimsical". :)
I tried to think of details that would make Janey feel comfortable and at home when she walked through the door. Janey blogs over at Honey and Wildflowers, and for the past twenty weeks or so she has posted "bump" updates on her blog or Instagram, which include a letter to her baby girl, whom she affectionately addresses as "little bird". She signs her letters "mama bird" and let me tell you, they are sweetest thing to read. I made these painted canvas banners to incorporate their titles into the decor:
Janey told me she had chosen ivory in lieu of the traditional pink for the nursery, and originally I had every intention of doing the same for the shower decor. Maybe it's because I have boys, but when it came down to it, I just couldn't resist adding some touches of a dusty, rosy pink! I kept envisioning a watercolor paper for the banners, but I'm not exactly an artist. I ended creating the same effect by gently swirling pink dye into shaving cream and laying the paper right onto the shaving cream.The color sticks to the paper in the pattern that you've created, you scrape off the shaving cream, and voila! Easy as pie, and oh so pretty.
The photo booth was one of those things that I envisioned in my head, made, but just wasn't sure about the results ;) I wanted something that was less of a "flat" backdrop, something with a little bit of texture, that made it appear as if the person was actually in an enchanted forest. I think I needed a larger space to create the depth that I envisioned, but still, its hard not to love those gray-green leaves against the white wall!. As a fun way to incorporate the letters that Janey has been writing, we printed them out and had people hold them up in the photo booth. Even though you can't read them in the pictures, it was a sweet way of allowing all of the guests to read and interact with them. I couldn't help but upload a few of the pictures:
Details are everything, and I wanted to incorporate natural elements wherever I could to help create the "woodlands" feel. A bird's nest, a tree stump, seasonal pumpkins, a fur rug, and lots of fresh flowers were just perfect. I always wanted to create a special "seat of honor" for the mama to be, so I used the fur rug and tree stump to dress up her spot.
It turned out to be such a lovely time, filled with lots of laughter, the sweetest advice everrrr (given by a nine year old!) and of course, yummy food and cake. Janey, thank-you for letting me be a part of your journey to motherhood, I am excited to watch you follow God into this season of life!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about Little Bird's welcoming party, if you know somebody who could use the inspiration for a shower they are planning, please feel free to share!