more February

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February may be the shortest month but it was jam-packed.
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Traveling to help with the move. Laughing so much. Being completely beyond exhausted.
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Burning the things. I like how the sun setting behind the burn barrel makes it look as though Dad is hurling old dusty books into the eye of Sauron.
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Being emo/being artistic/procrastinating continuation of epic cleaning job.
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Finally I was around to celebrate Kathy’s birthday!
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Hanging out with my cousins on Valentine’s day was too fun.
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Valerie is a cake-decorating genius. Seriously!!
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Clean laundry? Routine? Sleep? Sanity? Certain healthier food groups? These are things that February deemed “unnecessary.” I hope March feels differently.
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monday gifts

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Thankful for…

old quilts & young hearts.

quiet moments in the middle of the crazy ones.

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my brothers, and our particular way of coping with things: being ridiculous. They are God’s gifts to me for sure! What would I do without them??

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the faithful friends who helped with the move. Brought trailers, lifted heavy things, made food, and showed us tons of hospitality.

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[more] safe travels.

smelly old dog to keep me company while I cleaned.

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puppy therapy with friends.

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first birthdays, first houses, first graham crackers with blue frosting.

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that Jesus never leaves me alone, He’s with me whatever I’m going through.

monday gifts

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Thankful for…

yet another safe drive across Nebraska.

fun times digging up old memories with my fam.

the fact that I am a paper hoarder. A hoarder of paper. It is not good.

Starbucks and peanut M&M’s.

Burger King & laughing to the pain with my brothers.

when doing laundry becomes unavoidable.

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friends and family who basically encourage me to be a mooch.

friends & couches & blankets & Poirot.

brothers who take selfies like none other. :)

that God placed me in a family of really odd, crazy, hilarious people. I don’t know if I could have handled a normal upbringing.

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opportunities for great joy, aka troubles. I am not loving every moment.

all the people who have shown me patience over the years, when I was/am immature and/or self-important and/or “smart” and/or using confusing/excessive punctuation.

sunsets to follow west, tumbleweeds to follow east.

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monday gifts

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Thankful for…

sunsets in January.

coffee, beautiful coffee.

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near-perfect Saturdays.

babies wearing adult-sized gloves. It’s hilarious.

how satisfying it is to chuck big sticks into partially-frozen creeks.

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stories.

family to take care of me when I’m sick.

Grace for the Good Girl. I am going to read it again soon. The way I keep coming back to it in my mind and in conversations over the past few years, tells me 1) it was extremely impactful in my life and 2) maybe I have more to learn.

schemes and inspiration.

how hard it is that R doesn’t really know who I am anymore when I visit. My head says, you know this was coming. My heart says, it’s harder to accept it when you love them and their BIG, fun, fancy, outrageous and loving personality.. which is fading away.

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this counting gifts habit and how it keeps changing me.

2014, my year in books: part II

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Ridiculous squirrel books, birthday presents from Anna.

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My cousin Emily recommended A Long Way from Chicago after an evening of sitting around a kitchen table listening to our aunts and uncles swap stories from when they were growing up. These tales are funny, Southern, and a little unbelievable but all the more awesome for it.

I’ve already talked about reading Let’s All Be Brave along with the Bloom Book Club. What a superb book for me to read at this stage of life. Or any stage of life, really!

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I helped Val paint a bookshelf for the set of a middle school play. She ornately painted one shelf’s worth of books in the time I mass-produced four lower-quality ones which is typical “us” and the reason she asked me to help in the first place. :) I was so impressed how real the finished product looked on stage!

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Two books that surprised me: 

The Nesting Place, by one of my favorite bloggers. A book about homes and decorating and such. Easy reading. Ha, yeah right. For at the same time it is a book about LIFE and I learned deep things about my personality. She talks about how limitations are lovely because they force us to be creative in ways we would never have been if our options were never-ending.

What Alice Forgot. I expected this book to be chick-lit, and maybe I wouldn’t even like it. Turns out, I couldn’t put it down. It WAS easy to read, and fun, but also made me ponder decisions and life and family relationships and such. You easily put yourself in the main character’s shoes, wondering, “what if I ‘woke up’ 10 years from now and didn’t like who I had become?” The memory loss experienced by the main character is used like a form of time travel, which is fascinating. By the end I was racing along, willing it to end a certain way, cheering everyone on in that direction. If it had ended in a lame compromise sort of way I would have detested the entire book and probably fallen into a deep depression. I needn’t have worried. (Note: just be aware, this book does have some language.)

Three books I read on the plane: 

Every few years, now and forever, I must read the Anne of Green Gables series. This year was special because I introduced my friend Jill to my friend Anne for the first time. On the plane back from Jamaica in February, I re-read Rilla of Ingleside (which is set during World War I) with my face turned toward the window, sneakily dabbing at all the tears. You would have thought I was reading about my own family. And loyal dog. He waits.. all those years! Growing old and tired but faithfully greeting every train! Will his master ever come back from France? It got to me as you can tell.

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A Separate Peace. This was a recommendation from Val. Maybe it wasn’t the best timing, to read a bleak and depressing (though magnificent) book on what turned out to be a rather sad and depressing December trip to Jamaica. Oh well! Still a great book.

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Another one I read on the plane and throughout the month of December was The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. Some books are hard to read because you want to highlight whole pages and chapters at a time and this is one of them.

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My old held-together-with-a-hair-tie Bible (pictured next to Val’s on a Friday morning memory group gathering). I still find pieces of straw inside from the early days of camp when we sat on board/hay bale benches in the barn loft. It’s a keeper.

The Day the World Came to Town - For starters, I’m partial to stories about small towns. I never knew about this- how 36 planes were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, because they couldn’t land in New York. Yes this is one that will get you choked up as you read how the town reached out to help everyone.

The Art of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (and the next one about The Two Towers) – Not very interesting to me. Couldn’t get into it. Lies. When I found these at the library, it was a happy day. My eyes were sore from reading all the small print, but I could not stop because it was fascinating. So much attention to detail and so much creativity! Seriously impressive.

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Twelve Clean Pages. Another Val recommendation/“I’m forcing you to read this so we can talk about it.” While reading the pages of this book (and there are more than twelve, ha. ha.) you will forget to breathe, vow to see more sunrises and shake your head in amazement. Because you can shake your head, you aren’t in a hospital bed completely paralyzed. Yeah it’s quite a story. It gets a tad slow in the middle, but keep reading because the ending is so worth it. Reading those last few chapters becomes difficult because of all the tears pouring forth from your eyes. My mental processing: this is just another cheesy inspirational teacher story about Hope and Dreaming Big.. I’m fine.. this is just going to pan out like I think it will.. totally predictable. I. am. fine.. no big deal.. I am ok.. I’m ok.. I’m ok… and then I dissolved into shuddering sobs. Sheesh. Read this book, people. (And can I just say if they make a movie about the author, Nika Maples, which they really should, they have to cast Ginnifer Goodwin in the lead role. It’s so obvious.)

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from nikamaples.com

Books are wonderful and I’m looking forward to reading many more in 2015!

Part I here.

Christmas with family: a few more

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Breakfasts were my best work this Christmas. These sweet potato biscuits are incredible and I don’t say that lightly.
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Woof! (That caption works for both of these pictures!)
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Crystal’s redneck method of getting the rolls to rise:

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And lastly, a big thanks to Leo for barely tolerating our presence in his home for several days:
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