adventures in baking, schooling and beating depression

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joining bloglovin, and claiming my blog

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so yeah. there’s that. with the demise of google reader, we do what we have to. ignore the wonky formatting, i’m just copy/pasta-ing from their site.

life has been busier and more boring than it’s been in a while. life is boring without our sweet 6 year old to liven things up – she really does bring so much life into our life – our true zoë.

i’m still enjoying the heck out of my job, and i’m getting to finally cook out of my beloved ottolenghi cookbooks, and summer is not miserable (YAY!) and we’re going to athfest this weekend. one of my fave local bands, quiet hounds, is playing on one of the free stages, and i am beyond excited. ignore the crazy art on their splash page, the music is awesome! AND spencer is in town to go with me, so we will be ridiculous townies for a weekend. even though, i wish we could just settle into life with him, with her, with us, here. waiting is the hardest.

i’m trying to be patient, knowing that she is having so much fun with grammie and aunt mimi, but sometimes, it’s so hard to miss her for so long. and we’re only a month or so in. we still have another month to go, if she stays for every class and fun activity that they’ve signed her up for. it’s a fine balance, between longing for togetherness and knowing she’s enjoying every minute she’s there. we haven’t been able to skype/g-talk as much as i would like – there’s no internet at the friend’s house i am in, and so i haven’t seen her face in what seems like forever.

i’m getting maudlin, but i desperately try not to think about how much i miss her sweet face. and her joy and hugs, and incorrigible questions. it’s not as bad as it sounds, or if it is, i’m firmly in denial. she’s great, and we’re fine. mostly. :) very soon, this will be over, a moment in time that passes like a breath, and we’ll be together and settling into a healthy life as a family – not destroyed or distracted by depression or hopelessness. soon. soon.

i’ve got to get back to work, i snatched a few moments out of the work day, and it’s so busy. it’s the end of the fiscal year, so there are lots of loose ends being tied up. back to tying!


learning curve

i had about 1/2 of a post typed up. 9 days ago. since then, i have continued to get busier and busier, with today being my first moment to even remember the drafted post.

which i promptly scrapped, because wow. working and blogging is tough – everynight when i get home, i just want to cook dinner, watch river monsters on animal planet, and be in my pj’s. not on my laptop. so there’s that. couple that with the fact that zoë is visiting grammie’s house, and spencer is still in dahlonega and you’ll notice there’s not a lot to talk about.

i file reports, pay fed-ex, email people all day and drink copious amounts of coffee. i have lovely co-workers, an office (with a window!!) to myself and a sense of working autonomy that i did not anticipate. i think it is unusual these days, at least for those of us with humanities degrees AND no sweet programming/networking/IT skills to find positions where there are not micromanagers. perhaps i’m wrong… my experience has been one of less autonomy and more scrutiny in the work place. so to come into an office where everyone is treated as an adult, their opinions and ideas are valued and there is a less rigorous adherence to the letter of the law and more in terms of the spirit. don’t get me wrong, we work within very specific rules and regulations. but there are no rules on how to paper clip your files. or whether or not you can decorate your office. (more on that in the future, once all my prints arrive). and i’m even allowed to wear flip flops. WHAT?

so in terms of job satisfaction, i’m super happy. i accrue 3 weeks of vacation time a year. i have benefits, and i am getting paid a very decent administrative support salary. why am i going on and on about this? because it is so unexpectedly awesome. we had given up hope on moving back to athens – it just didn’t seem possible. it is incredibly difficult to get into staff positions at UGA, and i certainly did not expect to be here.

while i am busy, and certainly enjoying my downtime, i am looking forward to our family being reunited, and moving into a family home together. it will be a little time before that happens, and i will likely not be posting much as i re-enter the working world. there’s a lot of juggling that i have to do, that i have not done for a long time. i think it is really good for me though – i feel stretched and energized, taking on all these new things. and the best part about the job is that the learning curve doesn’t stop. i will master check requests, and travel and fed-ex and all of that, but there will likely always be something new to learn.

i’m going to get back to my lunch now – i’m enjoying a leisurely one hour lunch break these days, but cold food is no good.


luck be a lady…

so i’ve never really believed in luck. i mean, sure, i had my silly rituals as a kid – don’t step on the cracks, heads up pennies, fingers crossed – but i never really believed in it. so now, whenever i say things like – fingers crossed and wish me luck – in the back of my head, there’s a little voice that reminds me that i’m being foolish. there’s no such thing as luck.

i don’t know where fate falls into things, i’m not a strict calvinist, so i’ve had a hard time believing in my life being chosen for me. but i still have moments of nervousness – i don’t want to tempt fate. or really, God. because i have a hard time not attributing a capricious nature to the God i claim to follow. i know it’s not scriptural, and sometimes i truly believe in His goodness or faithfulness. but a lot of times, i have a Jonathan Edwards type view of God – i’m a sinner, and He’s angry. and though i know that sermon is really about the grace of God, my head tells me that grace is for someone else.

so what does this have to do with luck? the other day, i mentioned a possibility that i was excited about. i was hesitant to mention the details, because there was this fear that if i told everything too soon, then it wouldn’t work out. foolish, right? but somewhere in my heart, i was afraid. afraid that a capricious god would hear my hope and decide i was unworthy. afraid that a trickster god would fool me, afraid i was somehow unworthy of blessing. notice how the g is not capitalized? that’s because it was a god of my own making. fear of being unworthy. of not being enough.

and in answer to my fears, i was blessed beyond expectation. i applied for a job at my alma mater on monday of last week, after hearing about the job opening on sunday. by thursday i had an interview, and this week – monday, to be precise – i signed my name to the offer letter and sent it in. i have applied to many, many jobs at UGA over the past few months, and never even got an email response. let alone an interview. let alone a job offer. let alone a start date.

so now, we’re on precipice of moving back to a town that has felt like home for 4 years. this year away has been hard, illuminating, and absolutely necessary. i was seriously broken in so many ways, and spencer and i were in bad shape. depression wrecks a family, ruins their ability to be whole – cohesive – not shattered, and i certainly wasn’t present for zoë. so when this year started, i was not in a place to recognize the loss of job, house, and familiarity as a blessing. as grace. instead, there was a hint that perhaps God was angry at me for being so broken. that my depression was my fault and everything that happened afterwards was because i was a failure.

do you see where the fear of tempting fate comes from? the belief that every painful thing, every failing, every disappointment was my fault, because i was a failure. so if something good was going to happen, i better not screw it up. better keep my mouth shut. and not tell anyone, and certainly not tempt God.

and yet, i was offered a position anyway. we have an apartment tentatively lined up, anyway. zoë will be returning to her beloved school, anyway. that regardless of my ability, or my lack thereof, or the luck i don’t profess to believe in, i am taken care of. we’ll have health insurance again. spencer will finally get his debilitating back injury repaired (he’s looking at surgery, or at least intensive physical therapy, not even including the week he will be out with his dental surgeries – which is why i was interested in the position at all).

and more importantly, i think i might have learned something. that luck isn’t a lady, and fate is no longer a trickster, or three women spinning yarn and forever cutting it, or that grace is not reserved only for the damned. that once again, the god i feared showed me He is a God who loves me. even when i don’t believe that about Him. even when i fear Him.


oh the things she says…

so there’s a post circulating facebook about the silly things that kids say. so of course, i needed to ask zoë to finish some common proverbs, and then i needed to ask her some more questions that i found online. here are her responses – some of them are amazing. others are not so surprising (especially the one word description question). they made me giggle, and realize i needed to share this. just because she is ridiculous and wonderful.

a penny saved is… one cent
don’t put off til tomorrow… a day that is a playdate
the pen is mightier than… me
a bird in the hand… is a friend!
it’s always darkest before… light time
strike while the… bumblebee is stinging someone
children should be seen and not… thiefed by a bad guy
don’t change horses… stay on your own
never underestimate the power of… the Lord
you can lead a horse to water but… don’t gallop or he’ll get too tired.
don’t bite the hand that… is a goat’s. or he will bite you back.
no news is… no television
a miss is as good as… cold boiling water  (i think she thought i said “mist”)
if you lie down with dogs you’ll… fall asleep
happy the bride who… marries a knight

What is your happiest memory? when i rode the shamu roller coaster.

Why do you like being a kid? because i can go to the playground. and sit in the back seat.

One word to describe you would be _______. playing.

What advice would you give your parents? get me an ancient roman ring.

If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? a cat. because i could eat anything except for cheese.

What do you like to do for fun? basketball.

Tell about a funny time in your life. when i was watching my little ponies and they had a pillow fight.

What is your favorite thing to do? Why? play basketball. because i like to shoot goals.

What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? to play teenagers at a cafe, and we dress in fancy clothes.

What was the nicest thing you did for someone? gave jewelry to allie and bennett.

What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? babysitting.

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? jump and dive in the pool!

What do you think makes a person good-looking? getting fancied up with jewelry and with fancy clothes on.

Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. go to target, and see my friends at dinner time.

What is the grossest thing you can think of? mud! and slime.

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spring is… cold?

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so here we are, two very cold rainy weeks later, and i didn’t take near as many pictures as i had anticipated. sure, we went on our hike up a part of the appalachian trail – it was an adventure just to get there! friends of our decided to join us, and they brought their 10 year old and almost 8 year old. so naturally, zoë was a happy camper. or hiker as it were.

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she got to ride with them on the hour and a half drive to the trail head. at one point, we were driving 15 miles an hour on a steep, windy, gravel, ONE LANE road. i think the trail head was 20 miles away. which, if you think about the history of settlers moving into georgia, or even the US, it is incredible to think of pioneering homesteaders making their way through the mountains and trees to eke out a subsistence living on a small hilltop. we actually passed a couple of places that dated from the early to mid 1800’s, and those people came up on foot, horse or wagon. and not the sure footed subaru pseudo-wagon we were careening in. careening is perhaps a bit strong. we only went about 15mph, but when you look down, it felt like careening madly. it certainly gave me a healthy dose of respect for the folks that settled the area. it takes an iron spine and a lot of grit to be a pioneer. though i think that is true in anything.

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so after our hair raising adventure up to the high mountain passes (perhaps a slight exaggeration), we made it to long creek falls trail. which also runs concurrently with the appalachian trail for most of it. so though it was no 2100 miles, our 2 miles still qualified me getting to say we hiked the ap. trail. because we soooo did. and maybe again i’m exaggerating, but i don’t care. it was a lovely easy hike, perfect for a 6 year old who, for all her love of being outside, does not enjoy hiking. or so her whining leads me to believe. she got the experience of using nature’s bathroom (aka: a hole in the ground) but stage fright won out, and she can at least check “i tried” off the list. at the end of the trail hike, we walked a bit by the creek, and the kids all posed in a gnarled old grove of mountain laurels. directly over the water. i guess it was the look on my face that made it so perfect to them – kids.
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it’s a good thing we went when we did, because the weather has gotten colder everyday since then. at least it feels that way. after the hike, we went back to business as usual – hanging out at the library (and accidentally accruing a ton of fines. doh!), species identification, picnic blankets at sunset and all the sorts of things that are not quite as exciting (writing and subtraction). but last week? well, last week was glorious.

i had texted a friend about seeing them when we were in athens over the weekend, but she informed me they were going to be out of town. how convenient, and did she mind if we crashed her house? that’s how you know you have a good friend – when you can show up, and they’re not even there. so sunday was church, and lunch at last (the monthly pot-luck i help organize) and then monday was the dentist for spencer. he’s in the final stages of getting everything pulled and replaced – i can’t even begin to tell you how long we’ve prayed for that. his teeth were destroyed by years of stomach acid wear, thanks to the ulcers he’s suffered from. he jokes that he has the mouth of a bulimic without the figure, but i’m thankful he doesn’t have the figure to go with it. so tuesday, and wednesday and thursday were spent in the company of friends that we don’t get to see in our short lived moments in athens once a month. although by wednesday, the 10 degree difference between athens and dahlonega was showing up in the thick layer of pollen we were sneezing at. we all got some kind of allergy flare, and wednesday was spent hiding in the house, watching movies and staying in bed.

on a side note, spencer was concerned about me, because i was sleeping so much the last couple of days there. i realized there is a huge difference between the tired of “my sinuses hate me, i was up all night coughing and i feel awful” and the tired of “i feel awful and i don’t know why.” obvious to some, but seeing how it feels to be sick versus being depressed was illuminating. i can say, in all honesty, i’m sleeping more because i can’t breathe and i don’t feel great physically. emotionally, even this nasty weather can’t bring me down. i’ve been listening to a band that is new to me – pilgrim, with their down tempo, trip hop (although that may not be the best description, but they sure make me smile) being the soundtrack to the week. i particularly like #6, only your presence. at any rate, it’s always nice to say that i know the difference between tireds, given that i used to sleep so much and for no reason other than emotional duress.

so things are possibly afoot, but i am hesitant to say anything until we know for sure. just know that good things are happening, and will continue happening. more details on that soon. i’ve posted more pictures to flickr of our hike, and apparently forgot to take pictures in athens. right now though, we are shivering in the low 50’s and it’s the beginning of may. i think last year it went from ice storm to 95 and humid, so this prolonged cool spring is so very very welcome. i feel like we might even get 4 whole seasons this year! remarkable. so though the title might imply i’m upset about our cold spring, i am most definitely not. it’s glorious, because it means i can keep drinking earl grey and chai and coffee without feeling obligated to ice it.

i think that covers all of it – may the fourth be with you (hahahahahahah) and i’ll be back with more updates later.

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when it’s all darkness outside

so i had planned on posting sometime earlier this week… 2 days of internet being out at the house was probably a good thing. there have been so many tragic things going on in our country and around the world, i was overwhelmed by news being on everywhere i went. i talked to my sister a bit about that, the sense of shame for not being able to watch or listen to everything. but i can only do what i can do. and i can’t get overwhelmed by sorrow for all these things i can’t change.

i made barbecue, had picnic lunches with zoë, read a LOT, and tried to distance myself from the round the clock coverage of nothing but tragedies. from kermit gosnell, to west, tx, to the boston marathon and all that followed, this was a hard week.

i’ve been reading, albeit slowly, ann voskamp’s book one thousand gifts, and i’ve been finding a lot of comfort in her blog a holy experience. because for me, when it’s all darkness outside, i need a reminder of who the Light is. i don’t live as connected to that source as i ought to. it’s easy to get distracted by soccer games and making lunches, and working on tens and ones places, and all the things that make up my life now, that i completely forget the point of my life:

i am the vine, you are the branches. if you remain in me, and i in you, you will bear much fruit… as the father has loved me, so i have loved you. now remain in my love.

yeah. about that. so today, while we go for a hike on a small part of the appalachian trail, i’m going to pay closer attention to the wisteria, the poison ivy, the honeysuckle. because these vines and branches bear fruit – good and ill alike. i want my vine to be one that has me bearing good fruit – sweet flowers of joy, and not the poison of fear and shame. that my source will have me glowing, and not cowering in the darkness.

i’ll post pictures soon… we’ve been doing all sorts of fun things, and i’ve been trying to document them as we go.


a bright day

today (april 7th) my lovely younger sister turned 26. most of my memories of her as a child concern sunshine, and smiles and a lot of brightness. she always seemed to reflect light into every place she went, at least in my recollection. of course, i’m learning how flawed my own remembrance can be, with so many years of darkness to skew my perception of light. while i struggled in the dark, she fought a different sort of battle. perhaps not the exact same, but she’s wrestled with the same darkness and came out the victor a lot sooner than i did. i do know this, as sure as i’m breathing and drinking earl grey tea on this warm spring night – marlene has always been a light in dark places.

my little sister has cystic fibrosis. if you’re not familiar with this terrible and hidden disease, please take a moment to check out the very quick overview that the CF foundation offers here – about CF. i call it hidden, because for many years, no one could tell anything was wrong. she was bright, spunky (okay, she still is) and fully participatory in so many activities and hobbies. but CF takes it’s toll, and while i left and got married, and sunk into a deep valley, she started paying the price in her body. and i was unaware, and incapable of even conceiving what she dealt with and still deals with on a daily basis.

i have had opportunities for 6 years to talk about her sunny disposition, her never failing encouragement, her constant ability to know what a word in due season is, and yet i haven’t. mostly because of shame. it’s sad to think about my fantastic baby sister ever battling anything painful, and so i didn’t. think about it, that is. and in the process, distanced myself from the only sister i’ll ever have. the only sister who can tease me about the terrible mullet pictures taken when we were kids. the only one who knows how her obsession with sound of music in elementary school sparked a not so secret love of musicals. the only sister who introduced me to frank capra’s other films, and broadened my horizons by never stopping her concentrated reaching in. she never stopped believing in me, and believing my life had value and hope.

so here i am, realizing i’ve lost a lot of time to depression. my counselor told me there would be a reckoning at some point – that i would grieve the lost time. i think i’m starting that – trying not to get lost in regret, in shame. in loss. because i lost time and precious time at that, with one of the most unflaggingly encouraging people i know. she continues to astonish me with her depth of compassion, her understanding, and her joy. she is joy, and hope and so much of the reflection of the Lord. the day she was born was a bright day, and every day has been brighter with her in it.

it has been a hard fought light, and a hard fought fight. i’m so proud to call her my sister – she causes me to desire more out of my life, my relationships, my hopes, because she embodies hope to me. she continues to fight a physical fight that seems overwhelming to me. the amount of treatments, the medications, the physical pain, the hurts, the sleepless nights, the limitations. and yet none of those things limit her. she continues to speak life to everyone she meets, to shine a light in every place she walks, to minister the Gospel at every opportunity. she’s never bitter, never angry, never hopeless – or at least not that i’ve ever witnessed.

so today, sister that i love so very dearly, sister that should be receiving late birthday cards from me (this happens every year if i send them at all), sister that didn’t receive the loud and obnoxious phone call we wanted to make (their phones were down), sister that never fails to encourage me, to expand me, to challenge me, today know you are so loved. sure, this post is late – yay me! but know that i’ve been thinking about what to say all day, and when i didn’t get to call you, i knew i needed to get it out somehow. you are and have been sunshine in my life, a joyful voice speaking life to me, my friend, one of my favorite people, and thankfully, my sister. i love you.


i’ll be posting about this very soon, but i’m forming a team for the great strides walk at the georgia botanical garden in october. more details coming soon, but i thought it might be appropriate to mention this in conjunction with the very reason i would participate – miss sunshine herself.


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