Pictures from Fall 2014

 

 

Here are a few pictures from our Fall. In addition to the big events from the last post, there have been field trips, school projects, a visit from my mom, another lovely birth I attended, and some travels for Josh…

Here’s Lilia on a hayride. (Incidentally, Simeon remembers this hayride and talks about it often): P1010650 P1010653

At the pumpkin patch with friends from Lilia’s class: P1010659 P1010663

Getting to feed the giraffe (at the pumpkin patch!): P1010667 P1010670 P1010671

Simeon loved feeding the giraffe carrots:

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More sweet pictures from the field trip: P1010675 P1010678 P1010688

Lilia’s Kindergarten class!

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Everybody loves Nana Lou Anna!
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Pictures for a school project Jedidiah was doing. his class was making a community alphabet booking, and he had the letter “I.” We learned all about a community event called “It’s Thursday, Let’s Dance!” The kids took pictures where the dancing takes place. P1010697 P1010698 P1010699 P1010700 P1010701 P1010705

Lilia’s class at the Halloween party:

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This guy won Harvest Bingo and got a stick-on mustache!

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Lilia’s table:

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I was in charge of snacks, and we made monster mouths with apple slices, sunflower seeds, sunbutter, and strawberry “tongues”…

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The last days of Simeon in his fedora (we are on to winter hats, now):

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Kindergarten wears Lilia out some days…

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Lilia learned to do the monkey bars!

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Lilia in her beautiful coat from Memaw:

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Another piece of our Fall is that there has been a good deal of construction on our building. Our windows were replaced, and for the past 5 weeks our back porches and stairwells have been torn down and (nearly) rebuilt. During the construction on our unit, we took a short retreat to the community lakehouse in Wisconsin. On a cold day, we decided to do a tour of the Jelly Belly factory. As you probably know, food dye is not really our thing, but it was a fun, free activity. There was a train and jelly bean art and free samples – including the Harry Potter Every Flavor beans. We actually had a blast…2014-11-04 11.27.18 2014-11-04 11.40.13

We had a low-key Thanksgiving at home with just our little family. It was a quiet retreat after a busy Fall. We decided that we wanted to eat Chicago-style pizza one last time – a rare treat for us. In the end, we thought of several Thanksgiving side dishes we simply couldn’t do without. So, we basically had a Thanksgiving dinner with a pizza in place of the turkey. It was delicious.

2014-11-27 13.09.18Coming soon: Simeon’s turned two, and we had a sweet, train birthday celebration for him!

 

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Summer 2014 Catch Up – Part 10 of 10 HOORAY!!!!

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I have been marinating on the idea of starting a holistic health business for a few years now. I get excited about bringing together my life experience, training, interests, and skills to help people to find natural ways of healing. I’ve been busy working on blog posts, a website, additional training, and networking to get this this going. Midsummer, I received a loan from our community to proceed with these plans. Soon, I’ll have a lot more to share with you! If you’re interested in being one of the first people to hear all about it, you can register here to be notified when things are up and running:   (And, feel free to share with others who might be interested!)

Click Here to Sign Up!

Meaningful Work

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Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to do Thai Bodywork. I attended classes, completed many practice hours, and performed several final massages on instructors, until I was approved to practice. In September, I received my official certification!

I’ve been starting off a little slow on the business side, but now I’m feeling geared up to give this aspect of my life more time and space. I wanted to wait until our baby boy was a year old, and here we are! So, Josh helped me to take some photos and put together a website: http://namwaanthaibodywork.com/. He also helped me to put together a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NamwaanThaiBodywork.

Thai bodywork is a unique art – there is pressure and motion and stretching and active participation. I love doing this kind of work. I like the puzzle of hearing people’s pain issues and then finding ways to help relieve the pain and tension in their bodies. I love that I get to work face to face and one on one with people in a way that connects the physical, spiritual, and emotional. I feel rejuvenated after each session, not drained or bored. I’m so thankful that I get to do this amazing work as a job!

Over the past few years, my interest in natural health and healing has grown and grown. The pursuit of the bodywork training has been part of that journey. I have also become particularly interested in the area of food as medicine. I am insatiable for learning as much as I can about food, systems in the body, and chronic illness. I am already working on a plan to expand my natural health business to include health coaching and perhaps functional diagnostic nutrition, a field in functional medicine. I am praying and reading and hoping with everything in my being that God will bring things together and open up this path for me.

I have also enjoyed attending a few births. I have another coming up in February. But, as I have examined the possibility of being a doula or midwife, I have not felt a further leading in that direction. I rejoice to accompany friends during the births of their children, but I have reservations about making this my work during this tender phase of parenting young children. Birth work is unpredictable, and steals me away for long periods of time. Josh and I are open to more of this when our children are older. Some say midwives in the past were often grandmothers, as that stage gave them more freedom to be gone for long hours and the wisdom to assist younger women after having gone through the childbearing experiences themselves.

Meaningful work is hard to come by. And, I realize not everyone gets the privilege of finding it. I am daring to dream a bit here. It is not what I would have expected to do with m life at 18 or even 25, but this path feels congruent with the person God made me to be and with how I see the world as a follower of Jesus. I hope to be able to use the skills I learn to gift the downtrodden and lonely and heavy burdened, as well.

Will you pray with me as I take these first steps down a new road?

Reflections on a New Year

We are now a few days into 2014. Honestly, it’s been a bit of a rough start for our family. We’ve had a couple of different viruses that we’ve passed around, Josh broke his arm, sleep has been hard to come by (for various reasons), we had a minor carbon monoxide scare, we’ve gotten a LOT of snow, and temperatures outside have been super-low. That said, I think Josh and I are still pretty excited about 2014!

We’ve got new things brewing in our heads and in our hearts. We’ve felt compelled to listen a little harder to the still, small voice and to make more room in our spirits for a Word or a leading. We’ve committed together to spend some time praying and listening together in the evenings.

You see, there’s something stirring for us, but we’re not quite sure what it all is or what it all means, yet. We’ve been here, at Reba, growing up and learning and just getting by as a young family for over FIVE YEARS now. We had an earthquake of activity nearly two years ago, when we felt excited about a move to New Mexico. Yet, it became clear that the particular community we were considering was not the place for us. We felt thankful to be on the same page as husband and wife, but we felt disappointed and confused, too. We are exploring a different, quieter option now…and we both feel compelled to listen as we have an inkling God’s voice may come in a whisper this time…

There is also a flurry of excitement within me as I consider my vocation in a new way. My head is filled with possibilities and hopes. I have never felt so excited about my career before. I have been a stay-at-home mom with pure passion and commitment for seven and a half years. This new desire to work feels like calling and like a practical venture all at the same time. I have so many thoughts and questions and dreams, but I want to walk carefully, with faith and balance and full presence in my life now.

All of that to say, it’s easy to think about the future or to want to make a plan. Thinking up New Years Resolutions has not felt like a helpful construct for me in navigating these swirling thoughts and questions. Instead, the idea of choosing a word seems more fitting for me this year: http://oneword365.com/. Yeah, it seemed a little cheesy to me at first, but then I decided to give it a try – to pray for a word or a focus for the year. Well, I’ve had a pretty clear word come up to me over and over. So, I’m gonna give this a try!

The word for me for 2014 is : One. With all the new ideas and possibilities beginning to overwhelm me, I want to be able to breathe deeply and focus on ONE thing at a time. I have three kids, a community, hundreds of small tasks to do in a day, many friends and family I want to keep in touch with, a plethora of small goals that I hope to attain this year…how can I possibly make that work with the word one???!!!  I don’t know, but somehow it’s working its magic already. When all three kids need something at the same moment, I can think “just take them one at a time.” When I am tired at the end of the day, and I’m trying to be present to three kids and my husband and my mind drifts to things I need to get done, I can think “Just focus on this one moment.” When I think about our future, I can pray about one thing or work on one small task that helps me to feel like I’m moving forward. One thing. That’s it. If I’m honest, I do things better one at a time anyway.

Of course, the Mary and Martha passage came into my head not long after the word did. Jesus says to Martha (who has been working hard while her sister has been sitting and listening to Jesus), “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” I have always wondered what that one thing is. Is the answer as simple as “Jesus”? Somehow, it seems like there’s more to it than that. Well, I’m not going to go into a Bible study here, but today it struck me that the “one thing” that is necessary may not always be the same thing in every moment. BUT, it is necessary to focus on the one important thing at hand, rather than worrying about the many things that may be going on around or inside us. Jesus talks frequently about not worrying, and focusing on only one thing seems like a great way to combat worry.

This year, I hope that using the word “one” like a simple breath prayer will remind me to turn to the One who is faithful and to ask in my spirit what the “one” thing is that I need to focus on for that moment. Sometimes, the answer may be shallow – the one thing may be just washing the dishes or making a phone call that needs to be made, and sometimes I may hear a voice that calls me deeper – to really see the person in front of me, to choose love over making a point, or to drop my list altogether and be present in a time of need. I hope I notice things I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I hope that I can let go of the stress that comes with a long list of undone to-dos. And, I hope that, hardly without realizing it, God will bring us to some new exciting places in our journey as we take things one step at a time…

Self Care

Here is something I’ve learned over the years being a wife and a mother: If I’m frustrated with my husband for not doing enough around the house or not helping me enough with the kids, it’s time for me to focus on some self-care. The truth is that I am feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by all I have to do, not that he is not doing enough. It’s just easy to blame the other worker on the job. I have a good husband who works hard for our family and who helps out a ton. If I’m tired and need a break, it does no good to get mad at my one partner in this stressful job of keeping a house and raising three children. It also does no good for me to give him a sob story about how exhausted I am and how I never get a break (especially, if I throw in a little comparison statement about how many breaks he’s had recently). That just leaves him feeling guilty and me sounding whiny.

Instead, the best thing for me to do is just plan some self-care and then go for it! I have an awesome husband who will take care of things while I go do yoga or have coffee with a friend or take a hot bath. Everybody is happier when I’ve taken care of myself. As a naturally people-pleasing and self-sacrificing person, it’s taken me a long time to learn this simple lesson. Sacrifice is a huge part of motherhood, but playing the role of martyr in these situations doesn’t usually help anyone.

After nearly a year with a new babe in our house, I’ve realized it’s time for some intentional self-care. I’ve been crabbier lately. I’ve felt frustrated with everyone for little infractions. I’ve been a little down and unmotivated. AND, I’ve been frustrated with Josh for not doing enough around the house and with the kids. BING BING BING – that sets off an alarm in my head: If I’m frustrated with my husband for not doing enough around the house or not helping me enough with the kids, it’s time for me to focus on some self-care.

So, I’m planning some extra time for myself in the next month. I’m hoping to exercise or do yoga at least every other day. I’m planning to cash in on some massage trades. I’m gonna plan some date nights and a few hours of alone time without kids. I am feeling better just thinking about it…

August & September

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Are you ready for a long (but as brief as possible) update on our past couple of months? Well, ready or not, here we come…

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We had a great summer, with laid back routines and fun activities up until about the first week of August. Here are a few pictures from a particularly sweet summer day.

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We had a little picnic and watched these fluffy, brand-new ducklings.

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It was a quiet moment before the busy-ness of camp and births and SMC reunion and visitors and family vacation hit. But, all that excitement was a lot of fun, too.

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Josh organized a gathering of members from about eight communities. It was like a family reunion of sorts for those of us who live in intentional Christian communities. Also, we sponsored a visit of a dear friend of our communities: a famous El Salvadoran artist named Fernando Llort.

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It was a joy to have Llort and several members of his family here. His story is beautiful and deeply inspiring to a life of faith and art in action. Josh and others helped to arrange many shows of his artwork while he was here. He also created this piece as a gift to our communities.

2013-07-31 18.29.17Then, my sister Mallary, my brother-in-law Chip, and my new nephew Pilgrim came to stay with us for a few days. Here are my sister and I with our baby boys who are just six months apart.

Mal & Candace with baby boysWe all loved little Pilgrim…

Mal & Jedi & PilgrimWhat a joy to be with family! There is just a depth of connection that cannot be matched.

Mal & whole family shot

After a visit from some new friends from a community in New Mexico, we were on our way to Florida for a bonafide family vacation!

FL Gramma & SimeonWe had a lovely time visiting Josh’s amazing parents. Simeon unfortunately got sick for the first time, but he was still pretty sweet and cuddly.

FL Sponge Diving Boat

We went to a fantastic little town called Tarpon Springs, where we went on a boat tour and saw a sponge diver suit up in traditional diving gear and then dive for sea sponges. FL Jedi in Tarpon Springs FL - Simeon in Tarpon Springs

FL Lilia & a Sting Ray FL Simeon & Sponge Diver

FL Jedi Feeding a SharkThe town is very Greek, as many sponge divers immigrated from Greece many years ago. We ate delicious Greed food for lunch. Then, we went to this perfect little aquarium where we got to feed sharks and pet sting rays.

We also got to see some dear friends we knew back in New Mexico. They have since moved to Florida.

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FL Dave and Rhonda BoswellAnd, after much considering, we decided to do one day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It was truly a memorable day. Our kids were the perfect ages for this little adventure. And, they love to tell people all about it!

FL Mom & Lil Flying Elephant FL Simeon Small World FL Disney group shot FL Disney Castle Family FL Family and MickeyJosh, Jedidiah, and Chris (Grampa) drove back to Chicago in a van, given to us by Josh’s great aunt. What an amazing gift for our family of five! I flew home with Lilia and Simeon.

Then, it was time for a birthday party and back to school (see past posts for more about these). It took us a few weeks to find our rhythm and catch our breath.

And then, we had a lovely visit from my best friend Jenni. As I write this, I realize how blessed I am to have so many deep and long-lasting relationships in my life.

Jenni CollageWe had long talks and some fun outings. On her last evening here, we went to a neighborhood with Indian restaurants and grocery stores. We enjoyed walking around a bit then bought mango lassis.

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We are hibernating a bit now. We are finding our routines and organizing and planning for what’s ahead; but, we are still doing a lot of remembering and processing all the goodness of the past few months.

What a Week

Those are the words that rattled in my head and came out of my mouth hundreds of times this week.

What a week. 

As you know, this was the week of fun camp activities that my kids and I had planned together. We had 20 to 25 participants (adults and children), and we had a fantastic time! I shared already about the treasure hunt to the hidden park and the giant banana split.

On Tuesday, we went to a favorite beach. Here are a few pictures of my sweeties.

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And then, we ate these adorable “crabby sandwiches,” assembled from ingredients we all contributed.

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On Wednesday, we went to a fantastic little nature center, where we got to walk around in a wetland and an oak savanna. For lunch, we all brought fresh salad ingredients, homemade dressings, and different choices of proteins to put on our salads. The best part of the day was seeing a momma deer and her baby. We were even able to get really close to them!P1000323

On Thursday, we went to the Native American museum. This little Evanston treasure is wonderfully kid-friendly, with many items for children to touch and interact with. There is even a tipi with a simulated fire for the kids to sit inside. Here are a few photos from that experience.

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Afterward, we returned to our backyard for Navajo tacos. My amazing husband made the fry bread and meat, and everyone else contributed toppings. What a delicious meal!

And, what a week!

And, that would have been quite enough, don’t you think?

Except, that wasn’t all that happened this week.

This year, way back in January, I opened myself up to something God placed upon my heart. I accepted a nudge in my spirit to test out the work of supporting women in labor. There seemed no way to make this happen, but I told the Lord that I was willing. It is rare that a woman would ask some one to support her who has not ever done this kind of work before. But, God found a way. Not long after, two families asked me if I would be willing to support them in births this summer. Two families, not one. I was overwhelmed by God’s way of dropping this in my lap, so to speak.

This week, the births that I had been awaiting…the births that I though might happen last week…found their perfect timing to be this week. The first call came at 1:45 early Thursday morning. And, much to my surprise (and the surprise of the couple), the birth went so quickly that the midwife did not make it in time. The midwife and her assistant came in the door just minutes later. The mother and baby were quite healthy and amazingly beautiful. But, what a first experience with birth work, wouldn’t you say??

What a week. 

Then, at 1:45 early Friday morning, I got the second call. This time, the midwife and midwife assistant both made it in time. But, again, a beautiful, wonderful homebirth.

I am emotional and humbled and totally in love with these sweet families. I have no idea what the future holds for me and whether I will ever do this again. But, I am so grateful for these two holy and beautiful moments, as I got to be present when two little ones entered this world.

We had a camp activity planned for Friday, but the weather did not cooperate. I am taking that as a little grace from the Father, who knew I needed to sleep after two nights of being up all night!

On top of all of this, my diligent husband has been planning a Christian communities gathering and preparing for the visit of El Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort. He even hung an art show for him, on top of everything else!

What a week.

After an emotional high and much to be grateful for, we all fell apart on Saturday. Today, we are recovering, resting, and praising God for his goodness. I am hoping for a few more low-key days ahead of us.

 

Summertime Fun

P1000154Summer is here! We decided not to do any classes or camps this summer, so we are getting lots of sweet time together – all three kids and momma. Every morning, we’ve been doing “The Morning Ritual,” something I came up with on a whim. First thing in the morning, we throw on clothes (or sometimes the kids just throw shoes on with their pj’s), and we head out to the front of our building. We sing “Good Morning Dear Earth” and “This is the Day that the Lord has Made.” Then, we walk around the block to greet the new day, notice the world around us, and praise God for His creation. We often pick and eat mulberries off the tree in the front yard, too. Then, we come home and make and eat breakfast. It’s been a great way to start everyone off in a good mood and to get us all outside at the beginning of the day (great for setting our body clock!).

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At the Botanic Gardens with our friend, Isaac.

We’ve been doing more outings than usual – The Chicago Botanic Gardens, North Park Village Nature Center, parks, the library (and the summer reading program), Dave’s Rock Shop, the beach (every Thursday), and lots of backyard playtime! The kids also took two weeks of swimming lessons.
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In addition, we have a “Jar of Fun.” It’s a jar full of fun little activities to do when we need an idea to spice things up. The kids just draw a piece paper out of the jar, and we give it a try! One activity we drew was to “make party hats and then find a reason to celebrate!” We celebrated Simeon’s seven month birthday with water activities! Our neighbor Seth joined in the fun, too.

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The kids and I have also planned a one-week Summer Day-Camp for all our Reba friends. We’re excited about all the fun field trips and activities we’ve chosen for that week.

It’s been a great summer so far! The weather has been great, and I love the relaxed and spontaneous time with the kids.

Mothers Day

I had a lovely Mothers Day this year. Josh made me delicious buckwheat pancakes and gave me a fun new Michael Pollan book about cooking. Both kids made me sweet cards. And, I got to go to a Mothers Day breakfast at Jedidiah’s school. He brought me in to his classroom, took me to my seat, and served me breakfast. It was quite heartwarming. Here’s a picture of us at the breakfast – both wearing orange vests, of course!

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My favorite part of the holiday was hearing what the kids decided to write/dictate to me in their cards. In his card, Jedidiah wrote ” Mommy, You are special. You are kind. -Jedi.” Lilia dictated: “I love my mommy because she gives me kisses and because she’s home today (she was on a trip last week).” And, then, the best one of all…Jedidiah drew this picture of me and dictated these words:

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Josh and I keep repeating these words. It’s so basic and so true. What a little treasure!

But, to be honest, I kinda felt like my “love bank” was already full in the mothering department this year. Though it is hard (and exhausting and trying and exasperating), mothering little ones is packed with displays of love and feeling needed and cuddling together. This year, I felt the need to remember how grateful I am to all those who have been “mothers” to me at different phases in my life and to thank those who have helped me to mother my own children. I am so grateful this is not an endeavor that I undertake on my own!

And, of course, I thought a lot about my own mother and how grateful I am for the ways that she shaped me as a person. I would not be who I am today without her. And, really, I think some of the things I like best about myself are things I learned from her. Thanks, mom, for being my mom!

Me and my mom - 1979

Me and my mom – 1979