Thursday, December 29, 2016

oh hello

Hey there, little space of mine. I just wanted to say I had a wonderful, good-for-my-heart Christmas and I hope you did too. I am eagerly anticipating the death of 2016 (a hard, bitter year), but also looking forward to the year-in-summary blog post that goes along with that. Despite many "bumps" shall we say, the year held many fun distractions that I will very much enjoy reviewing. I'm also playing around with doing a video - yes, VIDEO - review of all the books I read this year. (46 so far!!) Not sure if I'll have the courage, but we will see. 

It is snowing now, and today is my last day of holiday break from teaching, so I think I will drink some hot chocolate and listen to some J*** Gr***n while I knock out some must-dos. Love y'all. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Peter's Birthday

Today being Peter's birthday, I am full of warm-fuzzy thoughts and emotional reflections and the like. 

I remember Christmas 2013. I had been wanting to have a baby so badly, and being around Chris's side of the family did nothing to help distract me from my baby fever. (Think kids on top of kids. And they're all gorgeous.) My mother-in-law came to me nearly bursting with joy, bearing the news that my sister-in-law was expecting. I was like, "Oh, yay!" And practically flew back to our room, curled up on the bottom bunk with my pillow, and cried. That was honestly the last thing I wanted to hear, even though I truly was excited for her and looked forward to having another niece. I scribbled some selfish, sad notes in my journal and went to bed. 

In January of the next year, I was getting ready for a full day of teaching. I had been feeling kinda queasy for a while but was in denial mode because my family was teasing me constantly and it had gotten old. I decided that day to take a test just for kicks. Thirty minutes before my first lesson. So dumb. BECAUSE, it was positive! I started trembling uncontrollably and didn't know what to do with that information. To this day I regret what I did next, because I could've done it so much better or cuter, but I texted Chris some dorky thing to tell him. Like, how not special is that?? And what was worse, his response was very boring. Even that night when he came home, he talked of everything but that. Guys are just so weird. 

Being pregnant was a lot easier than I had imagined, but then I only suffered from morning sickness for about a month so I was lucky in that respect. I had been so very lonely being at our house all by myself all the time. It was too quiet. I didn't like being the only living thing in a little square house, so I bought an aloe vera plant. I considered buying a fish. I got creeped out by the silence so I had started listening to audio books and CDs over and over all day. I watched way too many movies from Redbox. So having Peter inside me and with me throughout the day was a very special blessing from God, in a very personal, answer-to-prayer kind of way. I couldn't wait to have a real live PERSON to care for every day!

I jumped all around for my prenatal care, as my idea of what a fantastic birth would look like changed several times. :P But one thing stayed the same: the few times I got to see Peter on the ultrasound were like opening the very best present you've ever received, getting to look at it for 5 minutes, and then being forced to put it back into the box. :( I couldn't wait to meet him!

I've already talked about my birth story here and here, so I needn't bore you with that again, but I just want to say once again that God had us in His hands the entire time, and sometimes the "perfect plan" that doesn't work out still turns out perfectly, His way. I saw God's grace and specific care for me much more in that downtown Chicago hospital, hooked up to all kinds of things I never wanted, than if I had been all cozy and zen in the comfort of my own home, thinking I was the one in control. ;) 

Peter was finally, finally born on November 16th, 2014, at 12:54 PM. Pastor announced his birth to all my church family that night, and he along with many others avoided saying Peter's middle name, because who in tarnation knows how to pronounce Emile??? People started bringing us dinners and I went just a little crazy not knowing what I was doing. Seriously the only thread that kept me hanging onto my sanity was the late-night games of Sorry Chris and I played. We'd be exhausted, and really we should've been sleeping since Peter was, but I'd be like, "Wanna play?" "Yup." And we'd silently stare at the gameboard with dead eyes and enjoy being together, still breathing, for a few minutes before the kid woke up again. 

Oh, the wonderful messiness of parenthood! I love it, I love it, I love it. Every single day is different and holds discovery and adventure and fun. The last two years have held so much joy for Chris and me as we watch Peter go from crawling to walking, and babbling to talking, and so many other things. I am so thankful today, and every day, for the gift of Peter. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!





Monday, November 14, 2016

11.14.16

Hi guys. I've been doing more exciting things than blogging. Like placing a bunch of new books on hold at my library and picking them up all at once where I almost can't hold them in my arms (and looking like a total nerd). And trying on a pair of skinny jeans at TJMaxx because I haven't worn a pair of jeans in 11 years, and I've always wondered what I'd look like now and how it would feel. (I looked strange and awkward and it felt terrible.) I also watched the just-released new trailer for next year's much-anticipated film Beauty and the Beast and was a little sad I didn't like it more. (The teaser made me gasp and fangirl and I probably rewatched it about 50 times.)

So anyway. I am so far behind on the gratitude challenge thing that I'm giving it up. The journal prompts were kind of dumb, to be honest. So I'm going to talk about random things I'm thankful for instead.

For example, this has taken me years to realize, but I am truly thankful God has moved my family around so much, because many good things have come out of it. We have gotten to see many cool places across the country. I LOVE traveling, and having seen both oceans and a bunch of places in-between is something I am forever grateful for.

I am thankful for my parents' and grandparents' view that "you can never have too many books or too much music." :) I know it's kind of a "haha" thing that I'm so obsessed with books, but you fellow book lovers will understand me when I say that I count them as friends. I love to just sit and go through my books and remember the stories they tell and what they mean to me. This year brought the wonderful joy of reading to my son. We go to the library at least once a week now, and he knows to run through the rows of picture books and point to the ones he wants, and put them in our bag. :) Books will help with imagination, vocabulary (and thus spelling and grammar), open-mindedness, and thoughtfulness, and I hope Peter grows up to love books as much as his mommy does (minus the bordering-on-hoarder tendency).

I'm thankful for my handful of friends that have stayed relatively the same over the years, and are bright pictures of Christ and His unconditional love and faithfulness. I don't know what I'd do without you.

That's all for now. Today has been a tired day and I feel like typing forever, but I don't know what kind of a post I'd end up with and I'm already unhappy with my lack of grammar right now.


Friday, November 4, 2016

30 Days of Gratitude / Days 2, 3, & 4

I'm so good at blogging every day! Haha. Hahahahaha. 
Okay, so.

What technology am I grateful for?
Nearly all, if I were to be honest, but the gadget I'm the most grateful for would be my phone. Each day on my phone I am able to set an alarm, read a recipe, take a picture (or video or recording), watch someone speaking live from across the globe, send a birthday card, watch my show, call anyone anywhere, navigate to a destination, and so much more! It blows my mind. 

That being said, I think I'd love to "accidentally" lose it for about a month and notice the positive change that would come like a quiet sunrise over my life. I'm on my phone way too much, and though I love staying connected to people and capturing daily moments with my son and making my voice heard on topics I think are important, it is not worth the lack of sleep, the mental agitation, and actually the physical toll it takes. Someone send me on a missions trip somewhere remote, please. I won't like it but I'll like it, if that makes any sense at all.

What color am I grateful for?
I once read some secular, scientific article on the calming effects of the color green. Because the article was written by a non-Christian, it naturally left out how amazingly brilliant and merciful it was of our Creator to choose to make the vegetation we see everywhere, all the time, a beautiful vibrant green. Grass, trees, leaves, etc. Silently telling us to stop and breathe. 

Ironically, other than plants, I really can't stand the color. lol (St. Patrick's Day excepted, of course.) So next color in line I'd have to say would be blue, because THE SEA.

What food am I grateful for?
How long can I type here before you close the page and go scroll through Facebook? :P jk Oh let's see. I suppose I'm thankful for the food that's good for me. I love all kinds of fruit, and I love when summer is in its peak and all the fruit goes on sale, and my cart is full of sweet-smelling things of all colors. I go home and slice and chop and peel and eventually I look over at a bowl with a rainbow in it! What gorgeous colors God made, and it's all food He created and it's good for me, too! Yum yum. 

Perhaps I will remember to blog Day 5 tomorrow. This is, after all, supposed to be a daily gratitude reminder/workout. ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Family Pictures

Every year for our anniversary I try to have professional pictures taken. This year our good friend Faith of faithlinell.com agreed to do a photoshoot for us, and I can't even tell you how happy I am with the results! Here are a few faves. :) 













30 Days of Gratitude / Day 1

Pinterest. The site where many, like myself, pin these catchy 30-days-of-whatever charts full of motivation and great ideas. We think we'll implement them. We really do. But I betcha more often than not they end up on a board completely forgotten about, with hundreds of other motivational pins burying them deeper and deeper. 

A few months ago I pinned this one, thinking it'd be a fantastic way to get myself all in the thankful mood leading up to Thanksgiving. This is how together I had myself, guys: I set a reminder in my phone calendar, AND wrote it in my planner. Serious halo. 

So here I am. Day 1 of 30 Days of Gratitude. It's a weird one to start with.
What smell are you grateful for today?
Seriously, guys? You couldn't break me in with "What person are you thankful for?" or even "What food are you grateful for"?? Who made this, anyway? Whatever. Here goes. 

I am thankful for the smell of dinner being cooked right here at home, either in the oven or on the stove. Here's a picture of what I got to smell (and eat) tonight:

It was totally as yummy as it looks! Lots of reasons why the smell of dinner cooking causes me to be thankful.

1. It means we have food. Might sound kind of obvious, but there is an unbelievable amount of people that either are going hungry tonight or don't have enough food to be adequately nourished. Not to mention many people still don't have access to or can't afford to buy organic products, so the fact that we're able to is a blessing in itself.
2. It means there's family to cook for. I often think of those that live alone, or the majority of modern families now who live in the same house but live their separate lives. Eating dinner together as a family is a lost art and joy. I am so thankful that almost every night I get to enjoy good food with the best people in my life! (And boy the convos around the table are a blast!)
3. It could mean someone is prepping and cooking for me. Mom and I share the dinner-making load now, so at least 3 days out of the week she's on dinner duty, which means the fantastic smell wafting from the kitchen is coming from her time, forethought, planning, and effort. I hope my grateful thoughts don't just stay in my head, but get turned into a verbal thank-you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

some random pictures

So you can see our faces once a year. :P






update


  • We are very close to getting a permit for our addition, which means work can begin again and we'll be that much closer to moving back in!
  • Peter now says "all done" and "juice," and lets me know when he needs a new diaper.
  • I have only 3 more books to read before I complete my 30-book reading challenge for this year. (Yes, my eyes are very tired.)
  • I have been organizing a 26-player string ensemble offertory. We play next Sunday night and I can't wait! 
  • I am currently teaching 10 students. 
  • I have been staying up till 1 AM most nights (because I am a fool), so if you see posts on other forms of social media at ungodly hours of the day (or night), that's why. 
  • Chris, Peter, and I are counting the days till September when we get to go to Sanibel, FL with some of our fave in-laws. 
  • I've been getting to do all kinds of fun, random activities, which have been documented on my Instagram. (I'm waaaaay better with pictures on there than here.)
  • I've been very full of thoughts but haven't had the peace of mind to sit and translate them into a blog post, but maybe one of these days it'll happen. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

In the Desert - Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;

"But I like it
"Because it is bitter,
"And because it is my heart."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Untitled

The day after I posted the year in the review, my grandma died.
It was way harder for me than I thought.
It wasn't that I didn't expect it,
Or even that I didn't wish it for her.
But my mind was already sad,
And her heaven-going was the small breath
That pushed me over. Made me inhale slowly but sharply.

It was cold when we went to see her. Dark, too.
Her place was the same as I had left it last Tuesday.
Her clutter was still there, but less dusty.
Boxes of Christmas stuff sat patiently at her feet.
It didn't need to be sorted anymore.
"She won't need that where she's gone," I thought.
So many things she won't need there.

I was glad she had wrapped blankets around herself.
The night was cold, after all.
I know it's just a shell she left behind, but shells get cold too.
I felt warmer knowing she was warm.
We all crowded into her small place until it was so warm
We opened a window and let in the night.
The night air knew just what we needed.

Church was going on while we were there.
My throat ached, knowing my friends were probably praying
Just then for our aching hearts.
When one member of the body hurts, the others are there to help.
They provide the strength that is temporarily unavailable.
We were loved that night.
I suppose we all experienced heaven a little.

So I sat there and couldn't stop looking at her.
Oddly, it didn't bother me to be staring at death.
She had been in such pain that heaven was mercy.
(Oh to experience the joys of that place!)
Those eyes were transformed and were now beholding glory
As of yet unimagined by our doubting, timid hearts.
She was home.

They took her and I realized I couldn't sit there forever.
For a fleeting moment, I wished I hadn't been so close to her.
One less game of Yahtzee, perhaps, might've made
This parting easier. One less conversation or one less laugh
Might take four inches off the crack growing in my heart.
Why did she have to love me so hard?
Didn't she know how difficult it would make this night?

Those next few days were a kind of controlled chaos.
So much sorting. So many tears.
I found pictures and certificates and hospital bills and candy wrappers.
A life does not fit easily into so many boxes.
How to decide which items to display to represent a person?
Seventy-six years of poetry reduced to a single line.
Life is not fair, I know. Decisions must be made.

Funeral day.
I have the usual quandary of whether to wear bright colors in celebration,
Or to wear black because it's 'what you do.'
I wear black and white to compromise.
Peter is dressed in what makes him happy.
She would've wanted that, at the very least.
We are ready.

I play violin with my sister and I am a wreck inside.
"Just get to the end of the hymn, the service, the day," I think.
We know she is in heaven. We will see her again.
But the beauty of funerals is God lets us cry.
He bottles up our tears. He remembers them.
I hadn't wanted to cry in front of my friends, my family.
But I needed to, and I did, and I'm glad.

So many dear ones came.
They didn't just bring themselves; they brought stories and hugs, too.
We put candy in the casket, because death requires some silliness, no?
There was a lot of food, but I saw the love and time behind it all.
I felt closure and it felt good.
"She would've been very happy," I kept saying.
I was so thankful for the joy everyone brought with them.

I didn't want to be there when they put her in the ground.
Like I said, it was just a shell.
But she would've wanted me there, so I made myself go.
We trudged through thick snow in our church shoes and shivered from
More than just the cold.
Dad said some words and we nodded and cried, and it was time.
It was my turn to say something.

I walked up to the casket and almost tripped.
I couldn't see.
I stared at the pattern and wondered why I picked such a stupid color for the shell box.
"It didn't look this color in the book," I thought.
"Goodbye, Gram" was all that I managed to get out.
Sometimes, words are not as necessary as they are polite.
Thank God she knew this.

We went home and began the process of healing.
Wounds are individual, you know.
Each one heals differently, uniquely. On its own schedule.
For tiny moments, I'll feel like mine is gone.
But memories are ghosts and they are not afraid of daylight.
My ghosts are many.
I cannot wish them away.

I am not sad for her; I am sad for me.
Selfish, I know.
I was lonely before, and then she left and I am aching. Truly.
She was not just a grandmother but a friend.
(I believe that cliche to be appropriate.)
There is so much I will miss.
I will always long for just one more Tuesday at her house.

Gram, words were our chocolate. :)
Thanks for listening to everything I had to say.
It is because of you -- it is all because of you.
Two-Person Solitaire just got a whole lot more difficult to play.
Eva Cassidy is singing "Over the Rainbow" and we've stopped rolling dice
Because the beauty of it hit us at the same exact time.
We smile and keep playing.

I will work hard as I'm headed closer to you.
Peter will hear every story; see every picture.
Our family tree will continue to be filled in
Just like you wanted.
I will sing and play and read and love.
You always wanted another poem. Well, Gram,
This one's for you.

- with all my heart, Rachael

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 // a year of transition

Last year was a crazy one. It was super busy and full of traveling. On top of all that, we were learning how to get used to life with a new baby, and, more recently, living with my family while our addition is being built. Chris has worked very hard all year, and I am SO proud of him! He has been an amazing husband and father every. single. day. I am so thankful and blessed to call him mine. :) And Peter, as you already know, is our not-so-little bundle of joy! We have had such fun watching him grow and develop, from being able to roll over on his own, to saying his first words. :) 

We took a LOT of trips this year. In February we all drove down to SC for Chris's brother Todd's wedding. Peter looked sharp all dressed up in his first suit. :) The wedding was beautiful, and my new sister-in-law Anna is awesome!

In March we went on a big trip to the FL Keys with my family. Peter found the salty southern air very exhausting, but he liked it, nonetheless. Everyone thought he was the best dressed person on the trip. :P Chris and I enjoyed kayaking through the canals and seeing manatees. The funniest part of the trip was the fact that I had no way to bring Peter's usual bed, so we made a makeshift one out of my suitcase! (I know, it sounds terrible.) But he loved it and slept through the night most of the trip!

In May we drove to SD for Chris to help with some construction projects. I enjoyed visiting with my in-laws and getting to celebrate some of my nephews' birthdays. 

In August, I drove Peter, my best friend Meghan, and myself up to WI to visit our best friend, Laura, at her new home. It was SUCH a fun trip and I was so thankful Peter behaved during the 1.5-hr car ride. It was my first time driving out-of-state! We had a great time visiting with our newly-married pal of 20+  years. :) 

In September, we went on the most anticipated trip of all - Sanibel Island, FL! We rented the exact unit we had on our honeymoon, and we brought Peter along, so it was a super special time. We visited all our favorite restaurants and tried some new ones, and of course we gathered TONS of shells to bring home. Chris enjoyed fishing late at night. He caught several beautiful fish! We tried to have Peter sleep in his own room, but after one night of him getting lost in the bathroom trying to find us, we ended up grudgingly cosleeping multiple times. :P Here is my favorite picture from the trip.

Our last trip was in October. Chris's sister Aimee had a whirlwind courtship and engagement, and got married at the end of the month. We drove up to SD again for the last Marsceau wedding for a while. I enjoyed getting to know my sis-in-law Anna better, and it was cool to see Peter and his cousins play together. He didn't get the whole sharing thing (why would he?), but he loved having people more his size to play with. :) 

I was thrilled to be a bridesmaid for the first time this July! My aforementioned friend Laura married a great guy, and the event brought together many awesome young people for the bridal party, some of whom I had met before. Chris was an usher, and Peter kept the lobby company with Grandma. :P

Chris and I started assisting my parents in teaching Patch the Pirate Club at church on Wednesday nights. It's been hard to leave the PeeWee Patch kids, but it's a good growing experience working with a different curriculum and age group of kids. 

We made the big move into my family's house in November. Our addition is really coming along! I'll have to do a separate post with pics sometime, but basically it has doubled the size of our current house, and will add a master bedroom, master bathroom, laundry room, and new kitchen. I can't even tell you how thrilled I am about it! There isn't one specific thing I'm most excited about because EVERY single aspect of this project will be such a wonderful change from how it's been. I'll have a dishwasher now, and a washer and dryer (!), and Peter will have a nursery instead of sharing our room, and I won't be working with yucky steel kitchen cabinets, or a moldy fridge, and I'll have more than 3.5 ft of countertop, etc. etc. etc. Oh my goodness, I'm excited and humbled and thankful! We are in the process of choosing cabinet style, flooring, and backsplash for the kitchen right now. Chris took me to a cabinet showroom and a tile shop the other day, and it was fun to meander around discussing options. Honestly it's a bit overwhelming for me to choose what I want. Not used to that in a house at all. I like to work with what I'm given, so this is very different. I am the stereotypical girl, too, saying I want one thing and then choosing an entirely different thing altogether, so I'm already driving Chris mad, but it'll all happen eventually. ;) When it's done, I hope you all will come for dinner. That is one thing I am really forward to that I haven't been able to do much with my tiny house. 

In November we celebrated Peter's first birthday! Oh, it was so much fun to put together! I shopped for most of the party stuff online and found some good deals on cowboy decor. He loved all the excitement and especially his gifts. :) He did NOT like his cupcake, though. He got frosting on his hand first thing and then spent 5 minutes trying to get it off and crying concernedly. Barely even got to the cake. :P In November also my mom and I tried a cleanse out of The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. I was super grouchy in the beginning because I thought I am NOT going through all this only to have it not change a thing. If I didn't see results, I was suing the world. Well, in 9 days I lost 10 lbs!!!! I was so excited! I remember at the beginning of the year saying, "If I could pay money to just magically lose weight, I would!" And the ingredients for this cleanse were pretty expensive since we went all-organic, but having just 3 smoothies a day just melted away the pounds. I know I'm unaware of the amount of sugar and carbs I put in on a daily basis, and this kind of opened my eyes to what can happen when you clean things up. Pretty cool!

Musically I jumped back into the swing of things after having Peter. I took on a couple more students and rejoined the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. I played a total of 7 concerts this year and sang in our church's Easter cantata. This year I have even more students so I'm looking forward to learning even more through teaching! 

And now, my favorite part. THE BOOKS. I died a little yesterday when I realized I ended the year 4 books short of my reading goal, but there's always next year, right? :P Here are the books I experienced in 2015:

A Lineage of Grace - Francine Rivers
Lose Your Mummy Tummy - Julie Tupler
Agenda 21: Into the Shadows - Glenn Beck
Not a Fan - Kyle Idleman
"Shouldn't You Be in School?" - Lemony Snicket
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
The Cases That Haunt Us - John Douglas
The Princess - Lori Wick
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Fly Away - Patricia MacLachlan
Relationships - Timothy Lane
The Swan House - Elizabeth Musser
The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander
The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir
A Little in Love - Susan Fletcher
The 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse - JJ Smith
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
The Immortal Nicholas - Glenn Beck 

Wow, I love to read, guys. :P I love to watch movies more, but this year I want to eclipse my love of the screen by love of words on the page. ;) I am obsessed with Goodreads, so if you love to read and love social media, come visit me here

Well, that pretty much wraps it up. I'm typing this without glasses so I'm sorry for typos I'm missing right now. Thanks for still following me even though I am less than faithful with posting. Here's to an awesome 2016!