Monthly Archives: November 2011

Breaking WIth Tradition this Thanksgiving

It has been our tradition to introduce our children to their first US Thanksgiving with our friends the Wilkerson/Hightowers. Of course, that was before we moved hundreds of miles away from Georgia.

We really had a fantastic time this year celebrating with other displaced seminarians, letting the children run around the gymnasium while the parents ate and visited. One of the families didn’t even live in our neighborhood last year, another won’t be here next Thanksgiving and three of the children hadn’t been born last Thanksgiving. The food was delicious and abundant. The laughter was frequent and genuine.  The fellowship was true.

i loved it, yet I couldn’t help but wonder how the Hightower gathering was going. They had their own first Thanksgiving celebration with Faith and Cecil’s first child – a son I would have loved to meet – and I’m sure they didn’t notice that we Cowans were breaking our Thanksgiving traditions. Our snickerdoodle didn’t know that she was spending her first US Thanksgiving as a rebel against precedent set by her older siblings. As the mama, however, I felt a slight tugging at my heart and realized one again that this side of heaven, our celebrations will always seem incomplete.


Oh. Are You Still Here?

This week the weather has suddenly become winter. True, for some of my more northern readers my definition of the season may differ, but the fact remains that the high temperatures of the upcoming week are more closely related to the low temperatures of not that long ago. The sky is gun metal grey. The trees are dun brown. The wind has abandon all pretense of playfulness and pulled out its switchblade.

As such I have had a sudden and irresistible urge to crochet. Specifically, I am working my fingers into blisters in order to finish a hat because it’s cold. After the hat I intend to complete a pair of slippers, because apparently the temperature of the bed drops several degrees the second my feet touch the sheets. The mackerdoodle has requested her own slippers which I will complete after I learn the technique on my own pair and then I will still have several granny squares to finish.

There is something about crocheting that makes me feel warmer, even if I’m not actually wearing something made from yarn. Unfortunately, it is impossible to crochet and blog at the same time. So I realized tonight that is has been a week since I blogged. In that week I

  • had a free haircut. A real one. Someone tipped back my chair and put my head in a sink that had a neck notch and I closed my eyes because that is what one does when someone else is washing one’s hair. I woke up when she told me I could sit up. It was glorious!
  • cooked a 24 pound turkey. In case any of the neighbors are curious, that’s probably the biggest you want to go in our ovens. I was terrified there wouldn’t be enough meat or mashed potatoes. I came home with four pounds of leftover meat and three pounds of leftover mashed potatoes and 3/4 of a gallon of gravy.
  • not  coincidentally, cooked a lot of leftover turkey, including turkey and dumplings which we shared with David, Mary Beth and their girls.
  • made cookies with the children
  • come to the startling revelation that cooking now relaxes me
  • went to the art museum with the children. The cheesedoodle was interesting to watch. I thought he would just want to run in the big empty rooms, but there was a piece in every gallery that caught his attention. The mackerdoodle stood and stared at “Little Dancer of 14 years” for ages. She seemed more drawn to sculpture than painting.

I’ll do a post about Thanksgiving, but thought I would take a break from crocheting to touch base with you, my faithful readers (and by that, I mean “Hello Aunty Lily and Mom and Dad Cowan.”)

In Which My Friend David Gives Me an Unintentional Kick in the Pants.

Being a stay at home mother to three children while my husband works full time and goes to school full time is the hardest thing I have ever done. This is not the same thing as saying that it is an extraordinarily difficult task. Other people are parenting more children in more difficult circumstances. Other people are battling chronic illness in themselves or their children. My life is not any more or less difficult than someone else’s. This is the most difficult thing I have done in my life because I have too often committed the sin of avoiding difficult things.

Last night, after K-group, I was speaking to a good friend of ours. This friend is finishing his third (and final) year of seminary this year, and he looks exhausted. I asked him if he would counsel someone contemplating seminary to do it in three or four years. He looked at me and shrugged and said something very profound, “Seminary would be hard if you had to do it in seven years. Seminary is just hard. That’s what I’d tell them.”

Let me put the conversation in context for you:

All week the snickerdoodle has been . . . something. Maybe she’s been cutting teeth, maybe she’s had a sore ear, we don’t know; what she hasn’t been doing is sleeping. Sunday night at K-group I was so tired that when I closed my eyes for the grace before the meal I actually nodded off. I was exhausted and feeling like this whole endeavor was hard. Believing that hard meant bad, I was struggling with the idea that because this was hard, I was doing it wrong. Every time someone asked me how I was, I lied through my teeth, said “Well,” and smiled brightly.

When David said that seminary is hard, he did so without apologies. He didn’t say, “So no one should do it.” He kindly, and completely unknowingly, gave me a well deserved kick in the pants. You see, far too often in my life I have used the fact that something was hard as the reason to not do it anymore. Hard has been synonymous with wrong, or bad, or even dangerous and because of that attitude, when, in my late 30s, I face a difficult situation from which I cannot (and have no inclination to) flee it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

So I’m telling you that right now my life is harder than it has ever been, but that does not mean I am in the wrong place, or doing the wrong thing, or even disliking my life stage and experience. Hard does not mean wrong. It just means hard. Thanks to David, I’m okay with that now.

A Beautiful Picture of the Covenant Community.

This evening if you wander past my apartment  and hear the sounds of rustling around, don’t be alarmed. I’m just unpacking my crochet supplies. I haven’t crocheted since moving to St. Louis. I’ve been too busy doing important things like growing an entire human from scratch and discovering pinterest. (*cough*) But our Georgia church is doing a crochet for orphans project and I want to be a part of it.

Here’s what they are doing: They are collecting granny squares and displaying them around the city. Someone picks a square and “buys” it for $5 which goes into the church adoption assistance fund. The granny square is then set aside with other “bought” squares and crocheted into a blanket which will be given to the adopted child when he/she is brought home. I love it! The funds help families from within the church to adopt either locally or internationally, and the squares become a sign to a newly adopted child that he/she is coming not only into a legal family, but into a covenant community.

Why would a relatively small church congregation need something like an adoption fund? Because they understand that adoption is one of the most beautiful pictures of the gospel that the Lord has given us, and they want to be a part of it. They understand that it is a direct command from God (to look after widows and orphans in their distress) and they understand that adoption should belong to the entire community, even the ones who can’t open their homes to an orphan.

So I’m going to crochet squares in Missouri which will be sponsored in Georgia for children any where in the world. If that isn’t a picture of the covenant community of God, I don’t know what is.

A Memory

Two weeks ago Jonathan mentioned casually that his Chick-Fil-A was going to be having a Princess Night promotion on a Tuesday evening. He mentioned it in the same way one might say, “Aldi is having a sale on green beans;” as if there isn’t a little girl who lives in our house and pretends to be a princess at least four times EVERY SINGLE DAY. I reminded him that because of our bible study transportation arrangement, I have the van on Tuesdays, and suddenly it was a thing. We were going to Daddy’s Chick-Fil-A for Princess Night.

Two facts you need to know here:

1. The mackerdoodle was given a beautiful handmade princess dress by her aunty Melissa this August and she wore it every day from the time it came out of quarantine until November 1st.

2. On November 1st I was at WalMart because the candy is 50% off, so we always go get some. In the carts filled with bags of snack sized everythings (and marshmallow yodas. What was that about?) was a single, partially opened box containing a size 6 Snow White costume. Before I could bury it under the bags of candy corn and smarties rolls, the mackerdoodle grabbed it and asked if we could buy it. Knowing that even at 50% off Disney costumes are usually out of our budget I told her we would only get it if I could find a price scanner and if it was priced below $4. It was $3.48 and the mackerdoodle has worn it every day since November 1st.

Okay, so the aforementioned Princess night was moved from Tuesday to Thursday because of storms, meaning it was moved from a day with a high of 70 degrees to a day with a “high” of 48. Up to that day the mackerdoodle had been telling me that she was going to be dressed up in her Snow White dress for Princess Day at Daddy’s Chick-Fil-A. I was disappointed, because really the dress my sister made is beautiful, and the other is cheap polyester. At Jonathan’s urging I let it go and let the mackerdoodle have  her preference.

Thursday afternoon I stepped outside to empty my recycling, and the mackerdoodle followed me onto the front porch talking about Princess Night at Daddy’s Chick-Fil-A. I was out of ear shot for a few minutes as I made my recycling deposit and when I got close enough to hear her clearly, she said, (and I quote):

“OK. Here’ s the plan. I’m going to wear my warm clothes to Daddy’s Chick-Fil-A and then get into my Snow White dress.”

I had to nix that. I was going to a themed event in a fast food restaurant with three children by myself. There was going to be no changing of the clothes on site and I explained that as gently and firmly as I could. She looked at me for a few moments, deep in thought, and then said:

“OK. Here’ s the plan. I’m going to wear the beautiful warm dress Aunty Melissa made me. And tights. And can I wear my church shoes?”

Um yes, yes and yes.

As soon as the decision was made, the cheesedoodle went trotting into the toy room, and came back with his cape from Aunty Melissa.

She in her Princess dress and he in his cape . . .

There was a 45 minute wait for face painting, but the look of delight on their faces when they saw the finished work was almost worth it. I kept trying to convince the cheesedoodle to go pirate (with the cape. I thought it would work) but he isn’t an easily persuaded kid.  Spiderman it was.

faces painted, princess tiara acquired, ready to head home from the BEST DAY EVER

When we got home, the mackerdoodle thanked God for “my warm dress, my tiara, my beautiful butterfly face painting, and the BEST DAY EVER. Amen.”


How Did This Happen?

This time last year Jonathan was working five nights a week, and when asked if I was going to be at home on a specific date I would answer, “I’m ALWAYS home!”

Fast forward to this week: speech therapy for the cheesedoodle, bible study, ballet for the mackerdoodle, midweek at church, Princess Night at Daddy’s Chick-Fil-A, a neighborhood community group meeting, workshops for women at church and every day has been multiply booked. Most weeks I actually reach Thursdays with such relief knowing that Jonathan will be gone with the van for 15 hours and I have to stay home all day. It’s often my only day to get anything done. Today, however, I managed to even double book my Thursday.

On one hand, it is making the semester SO MUCH EASIER!

On the other hand, it is making housekeeping and blogging SO MUCH HARDER!

My to do lists get half done, and by that I don’t mean I check off two or four items; it means I get to the end of the day and all four items are only half completed.

And guess what? Keeping up with three kids is more complicated than keeping up with two. Just in case you thought that might not have been the case.

It makes me wonder what next semester will bring along to fill up all those gaps in my schedule.

Look Who Has a New Trick

I’ve been accused by a lot of people lately of not posting any pictures. All of those accusations are correct. We’re having layers of technical hurdles in the picture taking and posting side of things. Anyway, here are some for your viewing pleasure if you care of such things.

Sitting up at 6 months


my doodle collection

The flash didn’t go off (one of those technical issues I was mentioning) but you can still see their personalities shining through.

And now here are some catch up picture posts

4 months


5 months