Monday, May 19, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 323

"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving..." (Psalm 95:2)

Thanking God recently (what even happened to this blog and at least these weekly posts?!?) for...

6141. the privilege of hospitality
6142. getting to wear friends' babies
6143. morning workouts
6144. sore muscles
6145. Steve taking the boys out while I host women for dinner

6146. farmers' market season
6147. first peony blooms
6148. my neighbors' peonies, still lovely after mine are squashed and destroyed
6149. Kathryn Joyce's investigative journalism
6150. the important sexual abuse investigation work Boz Tchividjian and his team are doing

6151. the way the boys get going and can't stop giggling at each other
6152. living in an older neighborhood with huge trees
6153. a visit with a friend who refused to apologize for her messy house
6154. a haircut for Jude, not horrible this time and cheaper than I expected
6155. Jude's hilarious attempts to play along with alphabet guessing/memory games in the car

6156. porch swings
6157. tiny, wispy pigtail on the top of my niece's head
6158. time catching up with an old friend
6159. opportunity to go to Ohio and celebrate my BIL's college graduation
6160. outdoor commencement on a gorgeous day, ideal for all the kiddos

6161. free brush pickup
6162. mouthwatering strawberries we picked ourselves
6163. Elijah's pants needing to be lengthened
6164. strawberry shortcake
6165. hugs from friends' kiddos

6166. "I love you. That's all." texts
6167. the "do not disturb" function on my phone
6168. my guys putting together my new bike
6169. a family bike ride
6170. our pastor back from Africa after a trip full of answered prayers

6171. encouragement at how He is using me in spite of myself
6172. John Piper's timely, challenging words about summer and refreshment
6173. the incredible wonders He is preparing for us in eternity
6174. Jesus' invitation to rest in Him
6175. the glorious scent of honeysuckle, unexpected

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Things I Learned in April

I learned so much in April. Where to start?

1. A smartphone app can actually enhance, rather than distract from, your prayer life. I've been using PrayerMate for a few weeks now and have really found it helpful. It took me a little while to get subjects and details entered, but once I got going, I thought it was great. It organizes individual prayer "cards" under "categories" like family, church, global missions, personal holiness, etc. (all totally customizable). I love how you can easily add photos to the cards and text or email the person you're praying for from within the app. I have really struggled to be consistent with intercession, but this is helping.

2. Cars are deadly machines--and I am not invincible. Though the boys and I were unharmed in our early-April wreck, I was shaken. It was a wake-up call, in terms of how quickly an accident can happen and how careless I'd become. Sure, I don't text while driving (and if you do, PLEASE STOP), but how many other distracting behaviors do I excuse? And how much worse could our accident have been if I'd been doing one at the time? I've been driving more cautiously, and paying closer attention. I feel more nervous on the road than I ever did before. 

3. On a related note, some engineer at Britax deserves a HUGE raise. Our insurance company replaced our carseats after the accident (here's why), and we discovered that Britax had redesigned Elijah's harness-to-booster seat since we bought it a couple of years ago. Their new ClickTight technology is seriously GENIUS. It's a game-changer. I hope other companies follow suit; it makes secure installation quick, easy and foolproof. (Don't forget: your child's seat should not move more than *one inch* from side to side at the belt path. This is another super-common carseat usage mistake--check your kids' seats!)

4. Also related (OK, this is not technically something I learned but I am putting it here in hopes that maybe it will become something YOU learned), I now firmly believe more than ever in investing in a good carseat and taking advantage of available safety technology beyond what is strictly "required" by law. Please, don't turn your kids around too soon, and don't put them in boosters too soon. Rearfacing is five times safer, and bigger kids need to pass the five-step test before they are truly ready for a booster, no matter what height or weight they are.

5. Dawn + vinegar + water works amazingly to clean the shower. A while back I recommended Magic Eraser for soap scum, which I still heartily endorse, but was recently complaining to a friend how difficult it is to get our textured shower floor clean. She shared this recipe: a swirl of Dawn, then fill the spray bottle the rest of the way with half vinegar, half water. Spray it down, then (this part is key, I think) walk away and let it work for a while. When I came back maybe 10-20 minutes later, it took way less elbow grease to scrub the floor than it usually requires!

6. Forget beans and rice; my new favorite is beans and slaw. Specifically, the black bean ragout in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook with this super-simple lime cilantro slaw. I was first introduced to the idea in that link, where SK pairs beans, slaw and feta in a tortilla. Finding that surprisingly delicious, I soon concluded: apart from the tortilla and cheese, why not use the slaw with the beans as a side dish instead of the typical beans-and-rice? I love the fresh, crunchy, tangy, bright flavor against the rich, smoky beans. And it's a perfect way to get some more veggies in Mexican meals that can sometimes be low on them.

7. Haven't tried this yet, but I totally will the next time I buy cherry/grape tomatoes: How to Cut a Dozen Cherry Tomatoes in Half All At Once. Genius.

8. The reason most climbers attempt to summit Mount Everest in May: for the rest of the year, winds can exceed 100mph at the top. Sometimes they're faster than hurricane wind speeds. I discovered this little tidbit after the tragic deaths of the Sherpas prompted me to do some googling and I wound up on a rabbit trail of reading about climbing Everest.

What about you--what did you learn last month?