Saturday, December 28, 2013


Ollie when asked to say, "Howdy, howdy, howdy."

"No, I don't want to say, oudy, oudy, oudy, (head drooping, shoulders tight), but I do this!!"

Friday, December 20, 2013


From the mind and heart of Laine Lingle Dy-no-mite.

Dear God,

It's all about you.  We are so glad that it's all about you.  Christmas.  Christmas is all about you, God, and we are happy we get to have Christmas be all about you.  Because, Christmas is all about you.

Whenever you get an opportunity, God, we could also get presents in our stockings.

In Jesus's name,


Precocious, huh! Also, perhaps, I have mentioned that Christmas is not so much about presents as the birth of Jesus...perhaps.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Warning: Contains High Levels of Awesome

We are laid up with two different viruses at the same time. 

We have three undecorated Christmas trees.

I have exactly zero pairs of underpants in my drawer.  

So, given my current state of gratuitous organization and self-actualization, I am willing to admit that I am never, ever sending a Christmas letter.  Therefore, I am going to bless each and every one of you with the Lingle Family Update.

My kids are adorable, super advanced and doing various wonderful activities (when they aren't vomiting).  My husband is accomplishing many astounding things in his field and manages to keep to a vigorous basketball schedule.  I have lost a bit more of my mind this year, but, honestly, I don't miss it much.  People expect less of me.

So, there you have it.  We are awesome and shockingly attractive. 

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Prayer for Warmth

It is hard to explain to a child that some people are chronically homeless without facing the hardest questions in life. Why do we heat empty church buildings at night while people freeze under bridges?  Why are products produced by slave-labor available for purchase in our "free" country?  When is war ok?

These questions are too big for me, but I know one thing I was made to do...make things with my hands. 

So, we made a quilt. Actually, a wool blanket with a fabric pattern appliquéd to the top, but it is warm, sturdy, lightweight and made with love and prayer. 

Since I am a homeschooler raising homeschoolers, we made it a school project.  Laine made a pattern from his pattern blocks and I translated it into a fabric pattern. Incidentally, this was more geometry heavy than I anticipated. Pythagoras had to be consulted along with a journey into sine, cosine and tangent land.  Then Laine helped me select fabric, cut out the pieces and sew the pattern together. Next, I appliquéd the pattern to some yardage of wool coating fabric. I think it is quite lovely. 

Will our blanket solve homelessness?  Nope. In fact, it seems almost like an admission of helplessness to equip people to be homeless, but it is a gift--an act of humanity toward the dehumanized.  A reckless act of hope pieced riotously together in joy by this fidgety, toothless, lovely boy.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013


A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine who has closely cropped hair came over to help me stock my canning pantry for the winter, and Annabel, decked out in full princess attire swished up and announced without rankor: 

"Hi, I'm Ah-bewl, you have tiny hair!"

You're welcome!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Ok, things have been a bit heavy around here, so I hereby declare Friday to be #parentingsnorts day.

I have two.

First, Ollie has been saying all of his B's as D's which has led to a rather grim farewell in our house of late.

Luke: Bye, guys!
Ollie: (cheerfully) Die, Daddy!

Second, Laine and Annabel recently made a sock puppet and were taking turns playing hide and seek with it.  As I puttered around the basement putting eleventy-bajillion dominos away, I heard this track-halting remark.

Annabel: Wayne, it's my turn to hide the cock fuppet.

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Losing my Marbles

I used to be a very convivial, intelligent, thoughtful person. At one point in my life I wrote "Thank You" notes.  At one point in my life I had no inkling of the non-hyperbolic nature of the term "bouncing off the walls."

And yet, I find that way back then, before children, my house was a mess, and I rarely managed to finish a project.  Why is that??

I find a certain poetry in the odd truth that as I lose my marbles, I seem to be finding them. 

I have always wanted some kind of Advent thing.  A tradition. A practice. A drumroll for Christmas. You know, a thing. And last night we finally set up our thing. We filled 75 envelopes with puzzle pieces and hung them from a super awesome string in our family room. I can't even begin to tell you how Pinteresty it is!!  Each day each child will get four pieces and by Christmas, voila!! A puzzle. 

So it's a moderately lame thing, but it's our thing and every family needs a thing. 

Friday, November 29, 2013



Where they have to take you in.
Where the heart is.
Where you will be for the holidays. 

Where every Mama hopes she will safely gather her babies each year so she can stuff them full of food they will always remember being better than it ever actually was much to the chagrin of their future mates.  Home is a touchstone for family.  Home is a place in a mama's heart where she stands gentle and fierce for her babies.  Some of those babies are near and some are gone, but all are fiercely and jealously loved.

As our family gathered for Thanksgiving this year, we missed several faces.

My youngest brother, Patrick, travels with the touring production of War Horse as the horse Joey, and was in Syracuse, NY.  We missed him and hope that he found some warm hearth to settle next to for a few hours.  Blessings on the house that welcomed him.

My Grandma who died last February taught two generations the importance of family and tradition with flour and potatoes.  Each year we would gather around the warped and dented lefse maker and tell the stories that knit our family together.  We have a home and we come from a place, and we remember both through Grandma's eyes.  As for the lefse, we tried, but...we do miss you and your lefse

And our little Gwyneth.  Our Gwyneth who will never share a meal at the table with us save Eucharist.  We miss her too.  We miss the joy of new life and tremble at the enormity of life without her place at the table.  And yet, she has taught us about home and family too.  She has knit us together with love and a glimpse of a more permanent home.

Why do we gather around the table?  Because we need to remember what was, and then, embracing, go into what will be sure that we have a place. 

And if you don't have a place at a table, we can find one for you too. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


In our daily prayer, my children and I share a time of confession. I usually have to confess having used a harsh and angry voice and not having rested adequately, but Oliver, for whom words are clumsy, jumps off of his chair and gives everyone a hug and cheerfully sings, "sah-wee!!"  

In the fourth chaper of Hebrews, the writer adopts a tone of voice he will probably have to apologize for. I can sense the weariness dripping off of his pen along with the gallons of ink spilt in this weighty missive. From the frustration clear his words, I think he must have felt like he was trying to herd beached whales. Like getting reluctant, rubber-legged toddlers to walk, he was exhorting, rationalizing, threatening and bribing them to just walk. Just put your legs down and stand (mutter, splutter, grind, gnash, steam). 

And what does the writer finally require, since Jesus knows what we are going through? To cling to confession. Confession, really?  How about action and doing and witness and love?  How about bearing fruit?  How about praise and worship and discipleship?  I think that the writer knew something of the beached whale mentality of the church. The writer knew that, while the church's deep calling is to love and serve, often we are immobilized by self-recrimination and doubt, and the cure is...more cow bell...wait, sorry...confession.

But often even the idea of confession is overwhelming. We sit paralyzed before the very one who aches to set us free because we fear to face our needs and shortcomings and sin. Our call is not be the Creator or Savior. We are merely asked to confess, and when we don't know the words, I know a very good place to start. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Kid's Got Mad Jokes

In the struggle from infancy to childhood and, eventually, adulthood there is a sacred rite of passage; universal and fundamental to human kind. 

The joke. 

Elusive and complex in its formation, compounded by its dependence on timely delivery and sensitive inflection, the joke is the gateway from infancy to the great mystery of the infinite beyond. 

And let me tell you, people, we haven't gotten there yet. 

I had no idea the level of eyeball shrinking hollowness that could be attained by an afternoon spent in the company of a burgeoning joke-teller. Even the most devoted admirer will descend through polite, parental har-har's to catatonic non-responsiveness within minutes of encountering the fledgling's attempts to soar into joke-telling maturity. 

There are many inherent difficulties to decode. For instance, the subtlety between telling a joke and "just joking."  The paradoxical incompatibility of these two para-homonyms is confusing and disheartening.  

Knock knock.  Who's there? Tree. Tree who?  A tree fell on your car.  What?!  Just joking!!!


Also startling is the failure of the form of a joke to manufacture humor while simply delivering factual information. 

Why does a car drive down the road? Because it has wheels!!!!



So, I will engage in the sacred rite of passage; universal and fundamental to parenthood...

I will buy my kid a joke book. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


Have I mentioned the Kingdom of God lately?  I thought not. Here's what I know now: God created us to live in God's community. No matter how broken we are, God's love and mercy are deep and real and often God calls us to sit in the midst of God's community and be still. Sometimes we scream and beat our fists against the wind and sometimes we find our voices choked off and can only manage a groan and always God's Kingdom surrounds us. In touches, in muttered sympathy, in meals, in cards and in love we are lifted on the shoulders of others. We find healing through community when we force our aching knees to buckle in the midst of all the loving arms. Even when all we want to do is hide and protect our pain, God calls us to dwell deeply in community and be beloved. 

I know this to be true. 

Thank you. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Today I am thankful for:

::snaggle tooth lisps::
::toddlers with new words::
::friends with enough patience to listen to my breaking heart...again::
::the light of creativity in Luke's eyes::
::having pictures of all my children::
::getting to be a parent::
::kids who sleep in some of the time::
::that life is full of unnecessary, extravagant beauty::
::rocking chairs::


When my first child quickened (moved for the first time), I realized that however much I feel connected to my children they are not part of me. They are so alien, in fact, that our mixed blood would kill us both. The intense experience of feeling a body grow just under your skin is as visceral as any I have known, and while those children might breathe through my body they are not part of it. They will enter the world and live in it and I will not stand between them and their maker. In John chapter five, Jesus tells his friends that they are each a branch off of the vine. I don't know if I find it comforting or alarming that the children I gave birth to will enter this world and the next on their own. 

About five weeks ago, our daughter, Gwyneth Elise was born. I was privileged to give birth to her dear body, but she was one of the quiet ones. At 38 weeks of life, she died, prior to her birth, and my life was changed. 

Since that moment, there are many things I have learned and discovered so far, but the one thing I feel brave enough to say today is, our grasp on our children is no more than a winding tendril or a leafy support. We do not own them and they are not part of us. We are appointed as guides and supports, but they are grafted into the divine Vine just as we are. Each of my children are powerful and unique branches who get their spiritual nourishment as I do: from the Christ. Not only can I not fill their souls for them, if I insist on being some sort of heavenly middleman, I will hamper their ability to be rooted in the Vine. 

Do I miss my Gwyneth, yes, but she is not gone. She is as firmly rooted in Christ as the rest of us. In fact, she might be carefully propping up my drooping branch so that I get the light I so desperately need. 

Blessed indeed are those who mourn, for the grace of the Father and the love of the Son and the peace of the Spirit are deep and abundant. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why I Didn't Potty Train

You wouldn't potty train her either.  Laine wanted the full potty training course complete with sitting and listening to Circus McGurkus 964 times while "learning" how to go potty.  We had prizes and pull ups and lived deeply and fully into potty training.

Annabel simply could not be bothered.  She couldn't hold it and, frankly, why would she?  So, I took a deep breath and skipped it.  We put a reward out there because it only seemed fair, but I just knew my little sprite...if I pushed, it would become a "thing."  And no one wants to make a "thing" of bathrooming.

Her third birthday came and went and she showed no interest in or capacity for graduating to underpants.  After her birthday, I took her out of diapers and let her have accidents to help her know what was happening (side note: I have heard this is a common need for cloth diapered kids...CD's aren't uncomfortable enough when wet), and waited.  And waited.  And fretted.  And waited.

Then one day she woke up and announced she was potty trained.  And, with a few slips, she was.

So we bought her a princess dress.

So, if you have a prince or princess who just isn't...perhaps the answer is: don't.  I give you permission to at least take a lengthy break to let those little neurons catch up with Mommy's impatience.

I would not try this with a puppy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mom, What Does Encouraging Mean?


To come alongside, to carry, to take up another's burdens: to encourage.  There are many moment that I can recall when I have been there to encourage another.  I have dropped my life to shoulder another's.  To be the encourager is a comfortable place for me because I am giving aid while remaining strong.  It is joyful to meet another's needs.  And safe.


To make yourself available, to need, to reveal: to be vulnerable.  To say that I bristle at the mention of needing help is kind.  Typically, I would rather hurt myself trying than ask for help.  But when Jesus described his Kingdom, I am not sure he envisioned the most-of-these swooping in to help the least.  There is no class system in the Kingdom of God.  We are called not only to serve, but to be served.  Before Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus's feet were washed by a woman so low his disciples, who were common workers, were uncomfortable around her.  But our Lord, our incarnate God, submitted to encouragement and the embrace of a forgotten, unlovely woman.  Be dwell in God's kingdom is not a string of service opportunities, but an invitation to be known and to seek to know.  Through that knowing we find community.  


To love, to train, to cry, to worry, to need: to parent.  Children are needy.  Relentlessly and unapologetically so.  They are willing to stop and ask and cry and demand.  They love unreservedly because they don't imagine that they could ever be rejected.  Their joy is just as full as their pain, and I should learn from them.

So, I promise to follow in the footsteps of my children into God's great and glorious kingdom.  I promise to strive not only to know but to be known and refuse to allow my need to be sufficient to deprive myself the joy of living in the sufficiency of God's grace.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Disease

Homeschoolers, new or old, are immediately afflicted by the same disease.

Are we doing enough?  

Will my children be able to function socially?

Am I going to cover everything my children need to know to give them the opportunity to go where God leads them?

Doubt is a dreadful disease, and it can steal the joy that makes homeschooling so special.

I graduated from my mother's homeschool and went on to a successful post secondary career where I felt prepared to explore the academic choices available to me...and I can hold down my end of a conversation...or I could until I had 539 children.

Did I do everything, read everything, play with only wooden toys and end my days snuggling hand-felted, neutral-expressioned dolls.  Nope.  And we worried and fretted every year about whether or not my bothers and I would be able to assimilate to higher education...


Homeschooling family, I give you permission to sink deeply into each day, love each other more than your schedule, stop looking around in fear and learn to see the moments in each day that matter.

Yes, you must slog through the basics, but after you check that box, there might just be a honeybee on a flower that unfolds a science lesson before you in just the gentle way that will capture your child's mind and heart.

Of course this life is hard.  Of course kids will cry and pitch fits.  Of course you will worry and wonder.  Of course the little ones will bother the big ones.  Of course the laundry will pile up.  But, perfection is not why you entered into this path.  Graduation is not the real goal.

When I graduated from my homeschooling experience this is what I found: the sum total of the facts I learned were secondary to the slowly, quietly, peripherally acquired skill of wonder.

So, from time to time the lesson plans, sensory bins, extra-curriculars and perfectly coordinated unit studies get trampled by life, but school is long and durable and children grow and change each day.  

When doubt threatens your joy, look at those faces so prone to wonder, and find a honeybee


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life is snickering at me

For those of you who do not know (my children), I have a four year degree in music during which I studied piano.  I have about 26 years of experience in classical piano including one year of a masters in music theory.  I have about 15 years of teaching experience and have special training in early childhood music.  I spent my collegiate summers doing music internships and intensive immersion programs.  

And, my kids picked...the VIOLIN!!  Laine begged for two years to play the violin.  We said maybe, drug our feet, offered piano (you know, MY instrument) and finally gave in.  Now, we have a line in front of the dusty piano for a turn on the Suzuki violin foot chart.  

Yes, I am a classically trained piano teacher, and my children are fighting over their turns to play the violin.

My brother played the violin.

I play the piano.

I have already been through beginning violin and still remember vividly that tiny violins tiny violins.  I remember listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in an interminable loop.  I remember, smugly thinking, it's a good thing that I teach tiny violins in my future.

Annabel had her first violin lesson this week.  She was thrilled!  She needs a 1/32 size violin (if anyone has one...), which, for those of you keeping score, is the tiniest of the tiny violins.  Basically it is a key chain with strings.  

So, I bummed my brother's old violin off my mom...and decided to join 'em!

And you know what...I was mistaken!  Tiny violins sound like happiness rolled in fairy dust.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Little School

Our school pace sorta matches my pace these days...slow.  Our days are full of absurdly huge worms, counting, music...lots and lots of music, and all kinds of ways for Mama to run the fire out of these cherubs.   I think they are having fun, but I am seriously dominating kindergarten!!  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In My Weakness

Confession: I fell flat on my face this week.  It wasn't pretty and I wasn't super.  I was tired and frantic and overwhelmed.  I got the hard news that I am at the end of myself.

But, it is actually wonderful news.  My strength has failed.  Utterly.  And here in this place I must ask for help.  Simply and humbly.  I can not paint a picture of how beautiful and charming my life is because I get up finished and stagger from one rest period to the next.  I find I haven't written because writing blossoming words about bread-making and nurturing children and vegetables echo in the emptiness of my self.  It seems that out here in the world there is no place for feebleness and limping, but I am feeble and I waddle when I don't limp.  I have struggled forward because what hounds me is the desire to be sufficient and the guilt of need.  Help is a beautiful, terrible word because it implies need and vulnerability, and it took just a bit more than everything I had to learn to whisper it.

Often people ask how I do this life, and truly, today, I do it soaked in prayer, but not in my own feeble prayers but in those who have come along side me and shown me what community means.  This week, I have known what it is to be carried, and it hurt--it hurt to know that I can't.  The stubbornness that marbles my bones threatened to make me miss this opportunity.  It is uncomfortable to be needy.  It is wretched to be unable.  It is beautiful to finally, gratefully come to the end of myself and reach out and find the hands that are always there and will always be.  

I am not pressing on, I am pressing in.  Grace and mercy have found me and I have met them with joy and pain.  I am a very slow learner and sickeningly stubborn, so it is with great relief that I travel here to the end of myself and learn to be quiet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Just a bit more full than I ever imagined

I can't juggle.

In fact, I can barely catch.

So, balancing this wild crew is a full-brain activity for me.  

Part of me wants to apologize for writing so infrequently, but, the truth is, in my absence from this place I have been present in another.

A few updates:

  1. Plants in bags don't do that well.  Probably fertilizer would have helped.  
  2. Our new little arrival is being impatiently awaited by her brothers and sister (and parents).  Names in the running: Tigger, Squirt and Annabel Laine...
  3. Laine has lost two teeth and learned to ride a two wheeled bike this summer.
I am almost sure this doesn't make me old, but it might.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday {reflection}

I have to admit something deep and personal.  I have a very short attention span.  I have learned to compensate by learning HANDicrafts which give me the ability to focus.  BUT...this is a bit awkward in church especially since I sing in the choir.  Excuse me everyone, this sermon is great, but I am going to just whip out this sweater I am knitting...

Yeah, I just don't see that playing well.

So, I write.  Sometimes I write sermon notes, sometimes I write my own take on the day's scripture or sometimes I just write.  Just in case this horrifies you, I don't write when I hear the sermon the first time...just the second or, sometimes, third time...we do church a lot.

Today, I wrote about something heavy on my mind and bladder these days...having a baby.  Specifically, those first few days of being a mother.  I know it is Father's Day, but I have never been a father, so I really can't comment more than I am grateful my husband is a good one!

To future self: This is Ollie.

Dear New Mother,
     These first days are so difficult and overwhelming that I wish I could sit right next to you and help you through them.  I wish I could ease the transition from woman to woman-mother, and I hope someone is there to help you bear your shock.  There is no way to prepare for the tearing arrival of a new born life.  There is no book to read that will give you more than a glimpse into the wonderful, glorious devastation of motherhood.  A child gives you a new life and one simply cannot--should not keep on with life as was.  This gift of a child cannot arrive without changing you utterly, but like any change it isn't instant or painless.
     Those first days are huge and your soul struggles to lurch forward moment by moment.  I know you are tired, desperate, wounded and terrified.  I know you are amazed by this new life and also wondering if you are enough for this child.  Hear this one thing: this child is God's child and while you are most certainly not enough, God will not abandon God's child.  You are deeply called to guide this small one toward the God who is the Creator and true parent of all small ones.  So, know that you are not alone, and there is a reason they come in small packages.  Parents get to grow up with their children.  Never be afraid to learn, but remember that you have been given unique stewardship of this child of God and are perfectly tailored for the task.
     These first six weeks remember that God's community surrounds you.  As you struggle to feed your baby and yourself, learn to ask for help.  Expose yourself to opportunities for others to show radical hospitality to you.  For six blessed weeks, give yourself permission to hold your baby and let that baby smell work its magic.  Let your house fall to shambles.  Eat peanut butter crackers.  Take baths.  Cry.  But do not be alone.   Reach out when you need it.  Love your baby and let others love you.  Know that the pain eases, that those cloudy eyes clear, and soon your tired eyes will see a smile bloom over that little toothless face that will leave you breathless.
     Hang on, Mama.  I love you and I am proud of you.  The life of your child has just begun and it is miraculous.  Your wild, compelling, unyeilding journey into motherhood is before you.  Put your feet on the path and let it astound you.


A Mother

Saturday, June 15, 2013

There was a time...

Luke and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary this week, and because it is a stereotypical mile stone in an marriage, I feel that I should give some reflections about my personal growth and how deeply and profoundly my life has been changed over the past nine gloriously varied and busy years.

Year 1: I fretted about forgetting to wipe down the kitchen chairs when they got dusty.
Year 9: Rejoice with me!  My chairs never get dusty!  How did I reach this state of cleaning-nirvana? I have employed the peanut butter method.  Have three children smear each chair and most of the table liberally with peanut butter and then rinse with milk.  This method is actually dust repellant, because I haven't seen any dust on those chairs in roughly four years.  Butter, jelly, honey, syrup, spaghetti sauce and ketchup work equally well although I would discourage the use of oatmeal or granola because those substances are actually part concrete when dry.

Year 1: I felt guilty about sleeping past 10:00 am on Saturdays because...I have no idea: I just did. 
Year 9: I have shed this burden completely.  I feel set free and totally released of my overwhelming guilt.  Again, what soul-cleansing practice did I employ?  I have learned to deploy children at two hour intervals beginning at 4:00 am who populate my bed with knees and elbows in increasing numbers making my repose so forced and uncomfortable that I haul my tattered carcass out of bed at a truly respectable hour.

Year 1: I routinely procrastinated about putting things away.  Non-perishable groceries would stand on the counter for two days or more before I got around to putting them away.
Year 9: Over the past nine years I have tried many methods to motivate myself to be more compulsive about putting things away including stern talks, time-outs, bribery and motivational quotes displayed under the unsorted mail and spaghetti noodles, but the most successful, by far, has been the leave-it-out-and-lose-it method.  If I leave a box of cereal out, Annabel has solemnly promised to cut it open and dump it on the floor of her bedroom.  If I leave yarn out, Laine has taken an unbreakable oath to wind it around every object in our home then cut it in to tiny strings which will then be glued to the freshly peanut buttered table.

Luke, I am raising my wine glass full of unsweetened, decaffeinated tea to us--our life, our love and the last fragments of our sanity.  If I could go back and tell that 15 year old girl who fell in love with you so long ago one thing it would be this...he is the real deal!  Also, you aren't fat, no really, you aren't.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awake and Dreaming

So, exciting news!  I have a thought on dirt.  Actual dirt.  Please, understand that the following image is actually a result of far too much thinking and cyber surfing to be truly healthy, but I would like to announce that I have...PLANTED ACTUAL SEEDS.  To be fair, we have also planted blueberry plants, apple trees and one rose bush, but they are all far from harvest...years on fact.  So we improvised.

For the last year, my family has been remodeling our basement holiday style.  As in, building a shed over Labor Day, framing in the room over Christmas and painting over Easter.  My dad and husband have done an incredible amount of work, and I have made an incredible amount of plans for others to do.  We have finally stumbled into the unpacking and setting up part and I feel like we are at mile 20 of a marathon.  We are so close, but I am so tired and my under arms are chafed.  That part puzzles me too...

In the great unpacking of the horrible-closet-of-doom, I happened upon about 862 reusable shopping bags.  I may or may not have a thing for bags.  I just can't get rid of a bag.  Even if it is a stupid bag that will never be of great use, I feel as if somewhere, sometime I will regret its loss.  And I hate regretting loss.  So, I pack them away for the day when I will need them.  

Turns out in this particular quarter acre of life giving earth, only about ten square feet get summer time full sun.  This particular spot is right next to our driveway.  Now, I am not a germs girl, but I do hesitate putting food into soil that gets road wash.  Call me crazy, but it seems to lessen the overall healthy effect of gardening to be planting in nasty car-poop dirt.  Probably there is a parable in there...

I came up with a few really bad ideas...burlap bags on my deck (read:dirt party), giant rolling bins (read: plunge of death into a creek) and clear-cutting our lot (read: it takes forever to cut down a tree with a butter knife).  Then a kind of nirvana-upcycling epiphany happened.  Reusable shopping bags are for bringing vegetables home, so...why not grow vegetables in them?!  Right?!

Welcome to Pinwheel NanoFarm where the ragged ends are knit together into one beautiful life.

PS: I am not crazy...the adjacent sunny, flat, perfect field is not ours...or that bad boy would be full of seeds and weeds by now!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Than I Can Chew

Here in our home, we specialize in taking on at least as much as we can carry, and soon we will both have both arms full all of the time.  The newest Lingle arrives at the end of October, and we are thrilled to be having another girl.  After three "surprises," we decided to find out who this little one with be just a bit early.  I have never felt more settled or more inadequate as a mother as I do right now.  We wanted four children, but I really didn't think we would ever do it, and I had no idea we would acquire them so quickly.  61 months from oldest to youngest.

But it suits us.  We are all tumbled into our home in a mishmash of giggles and arms and noses.

We are all growing up.  I have learned some real truths about motherhood and marriage this year, and maybe, if I ever get enough sleep or time, I will jot them down here.  Laine learned to ride a two-wheeled bike and do his own laundry this week.  Annabel has given up her plugger (pacifier) by dint of losing it in a river on a short vacation an hour from new pluggers (let's just say no one was sleeping-in on that trip).  Oliver has moved upstairs into his very own bed in the big kid room.  (Currently it is still a crib and this Mama isn't taking that darn rail off until he is six.)  So, here we are, poised on the edge of summer, waiting for new life and new adventures.

Yes, I have bitten off more than I can chew, but it tastes good!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Piper is Paid

Just rendered unto Caesar what is apparently Ceasar's.  Although I beats me how they reached that particular number.  Apparently children are good and income is bad in tax-land.  Also, if I plug my car in that is good, but they don't ask if I walk or bike or recycle or bring my own bags or buy responsibly or turn off the air-conditioner or garden organically or pick trash out of the creek.

They ask if I have replaced my windows.

Turns out it isn't the little things that matter in tax-land.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

I hope you have read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  If you haven't, you should.  Because it is fun and fun is good. (Stolen from Seuss)  Also, if you haven't, just go back to your life, cuz this is gonna be boring...might be anyway.

I have been listening to P&P almost constantly for the last several weeks because my credits don't renew until June and I have listened to my whole library.  *Sob*  So, I have been immersed in the world of Darcy and Elizabeth and I have been noticing little things about the story.  What's that I hear?  A gasp of excitement.  I know!  I am thrilled too.  If I could just go back to my Jane Austen class in college...

So, here we go!

First, while throughout the text, Darcy is "pride" and Elizabeth is "prejudice" I am beginning to see that the reverse is actually true.  Stunner...I KNOW!  Lizzy's entire dislike of Darcy comes from injured PRIDE.  He calls her "tolerable" to her face and she gets a little huffy about that.  As you would!  From that moment she is determined to dislike him (you might call that prejudice, but that throws off my analysis).  Darcy, who is undeniably proud, is determined to undervalue the residents of Longbourn because of their (comparative) poverty and coarseness and misses the spark of beauty and vivaciousness that later captivates him.  Voila! Prejudice!

Second, while Mrs. Bennett basically has no sense and is the laughing stock of her entire neighborhood, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is similarly ridiculous.  Austen, while enmeshed in the social fabric of her time is able to see through it and reveal that...women can be cranky, avaricious and preachy no matter their income!

Third, there are literally millions of words written about the mercenary nature of love portrayed in these books, and I am not going to add to them, but I will just say that I am getting a little tired of persons with "no fortune" having a cook, a maid and a man.  Let's just call them what they are...people richer than I am but don't have their own reindeer forest.  Shocking!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thoughts on dirt

There are so many moments each day when I wonder if what I do matters. Will stopping in the middle of the grocery store to discuss the power of the consumer to change slavery practices encourage my children grow into caring adults or will they eventually shrug their eccentric mother off as "odd" for only buying fair trade chocolate? Will poking a few seeds into my suburban yard create an atmosphere of stewardship or weediness? Will we live better because there is chard in my fridge?  Do my children grasp the tenderness of the earth because I refuse to buy them watermelons in March?

The sad truth is that we have allowed the bottom line to answer these questions far too often. Yes, my chickens cost way more than the five dollars a week I fork over for eggs.  Can I buy things more cheaply than I can make them or grow them? Almost always. But I find that the sweater that took two and a half years to make is precious in a way that a cheaper one can never be. You will spend more buying locally and fairly than not, but for us, the choice to buy gentle food is one we can live with.  Does that mean that our cart is barely full when we reach the end of our budget?  Yes.  Truly.  But, paying more to know that the reaper of my food did not go home with a lung full of poison makes my apple a little sweeter.  

And that is why I buy fair trade chocolate and plant seeds in my yard every year.  It is not because I am a good gardener.  My failures rank from the mundane to horror flick carnage, but I am convinced that we press in close to the heart of the Creator when we dig our fingers into the dirt that was declared "good."  

This year for Christmas my brother bought each of the kids an apple tree.  I can imagine the joy that we will share as the buds turn to blossoms and the swell to fruit.  I can imagine watching my children climb those knotty limbs for the out of the way and way up high.  I am so glad that we got to plant them so that when they fruit, my children will know that abundance is real but often delayed.  For me, when I doubt if my life is worthy of a story, I think of the tale that the dirt tells.  I think of the countless generations it has fed and then reclaimed.  I think of that moment of inception when the joy of the Creator marveled at the bounty just begun.  Then as I watch the branches of those little trees, planted with so much joy and faith, swell with buds and promise, I know: my story joins in the Great Story and finding a tree that will allow you to enter into its centurian story gives a place to life that smacks of abundance.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow Day

For those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere I ask you, "what is going on?"

It snowed all day.  And the wind blew eleventy bijillion miles an hour.  My kids wore their snow jackets on the forced march that was the end result of hours of indoor "play" (read: house demolition).  And, to cap it all off, my schedule CLEARLY states that on Mondays at 11:00 am we will be having OUTdoor playtime with emphasis on gardening.  Please excuse me, but my routine is very important.  I spent a lot of time on it and it is fundamentally sound and it really irritates me when it get casually discarded because of a 23 degree wind chill on March 25th.

So, we improvised.  Actually, they improvised...I was too busy seething and almost missed it.

So, even though March still has teeth and my garden ground breaking is frighteningly behind, we manage to tuck at least a smidge of blossom into a most blustery day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did you try that...really?

I love Pinterest.


You know what makes me so happy?  Finding out that I have EVERYTHING I need to build a space shuttle right in my purse.  Thanks, Pinterest!  

I also love seeing brownie-Oreo-chocolate chip cookie bars declared as the best things ever. 

Cuz I could not have gotten there on my own.  Thanks, Pinterest!  

I also love having, at my fingertips, roughly 70,000,000 ways to make my body look like a twenty year old's...thanks, Pinterest?

But, hands down, my favorite things that illuminate my iFace are the kiddo ideas that clearly NO ONE HAS EVER ACTUALLY TRIED.

Example 1

The rub your back with little cars t-shirt.

Source: viaPenny on Pinterest

Ok, looks fine.  Until you realize you just handed a couple of uncultured swine metal objects and turned your back within arms reach.  Those of you with children just said...oh, right!  For the rest of you, let me tell you that that happy dad is just about to be joyfully beaten senseless with a cute little car.

Example 2

Sensory Sink?

Do I even have to say anything?  Let's just say, this person's child had better receive so much enrichment from this particular activity that the scholarships offset the plumbing bills.

Example 3

Hanging beds.

Now, this seems Swiss Family Robinson cool.  I grant you that.  But, seriously, let me introduce you to CHILDREN.  Unless you actually need giant gaping holes in your ceiling, walls, windows etc and some ER bills, just put the beds on the floor.  

Ok, Ok!  All in good fun!  Now off to learn how to create priceless art from toilet paper rolls and make baked alaska in my crockpot.

Friday, March 15, 2013

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I have been stewing over this for quite a while.

I don't want to, but I am compelled.

Sometimes there comes a moment when your house is a mess, your kids are a mess, your husband is dressing creatively and there is no bread...again when you need to take a break.

I am sorry to say that I am taking a pause and this will be more than a few weeks while I fold socks.  I need to focus on a few things I am feeling called to.  It is killing me to not be able to manage all of it at once, but little by little, God is showing me I can only really do what I have been called to do.  If I attach more tasks, then I am pulling more weight than I can manage with joy in my heart.

After giving up my animals and my garden, I thought that would be enough, but it seems that God is paring me down a bit more.  I am leaving this space for a while to focus on some forest fires in my life.

One of them might be a book.

So, please be gentle.  I am trying!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You broke my heart, Mom

Today was brought to you by the art of wailing.  We blasted right through whining and turned the sirens up to full yell.

During the putting the toys away phase, I was accused of breaking my child's heart.  Probably I did it on purpose.  Probably I am a bad guy.  Oh the tears!

So, I took a nap.

But, I checked in here to tell you that Laine started his violin lessons!  Mama is so proud.  He came to his lesson dressed appropriately in a bathing suit, work out shirt, and super hero mask.  Claire didn't bat an eye.  He came bouncing down the stairs and announced he was suuuuuper fassssst then capered around a bit all knees and elbows.  Then he announced that his violin was squeaky.  He is not wrong.

This week we get to practice holding the bow.

I am going to take pictures.

We might have to take several.

Provided we are not all in tears.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A bit touched in the head

All these ideas were generated by listening to Rob Blackburn's Christmas Eve Service...

Often I wonder about the blog description for this here web log.

Reflections on my first garden. Joys, frustrations, successes, and failures. A stay at home mom who just wants to grow vegetables.

Uhmmmm...I do not even have a garden plot plot.  And by now I am onto my fourth house since I started writing here, so it really isn't my first garden.  But my plan is to garden...always.  My plan is to homestead and can and spin and have sheep and basically be muddy and homemade all the time.  But life keeps changing and getting in the way.  Sure, I can grow zucchini like a hero.  (I am Zucchini Girl, with the power to invade every meal in the house)  And I still technically own two goats, but alas I am closer to going to medical school than to milking a dairy goat.

So why not change it?

Because it reminds me that life is just quirky.  We love one idea, but find ourselves on new adventures we never even dreamed of.  It reminds me to poke something in the ground every year just for kicks.  I kinda love the irony.  If I am honest, sometimes I would rather be growing vegetables than struggling through ideas of poverty and justice.  Seeds are honest and predictable and sometimes life isn't.  But I don't claim to understand...I am touched in the head a bit.

A couple of thousand years ago, God showed up on earth briefly and we aren't over it yet.  Sure I know God is great and awesome and mighty, but how severely I must underestimate God if one 30ish year encounter with God's incarnate self brings world-wide upheaval.  It has been 2000 years and we still are running around like rock-less ants.  Jesus lived and died and rose from the dead and we are still drunk on it.

So, if I keep getting distracted from the garden...I claim intoxication.

Happy Epiphany

So excited that the wise men are finally here!

Because I am tired, dang it!  Once again, Christmas pretty much whooped me.

I didn't hang stocking--with or without care.  But baby Jesus came anyway.

Our tree is sitting by the road waiting to be chipped into mulch and the decorations are in tubs waiting for our house elf to schlepp them into the shed.  The presents are opened and the cookies are eaten (even the ones I hid for later).

Now we sit poised on the tip of a new year, wondering what the next 12 months will bring.  Part of us sighs and says, "it will be full of exactly the same drivel as last year."  Meetings, planning, preparing, Facebooking, Pinteresting and scheduling.

All our present participles seem to be accounted for year after year.

But this year, I choose being.

The truly present participle.

If you didn't snort some sort of drink out of your nose just now, I am disappointed.

Somehow I have reached adulthood without having developed a knack for this.  Whenever life smacks of just being, by right knee gets wobbly and I start marching in circles looking for a project.  Quick!  I need a to be doing!  I get sweaty just thinking about watching a WHOLE FEATURE LENGTH FILM without knitting or SOMETHING.

So this year, I am going to put on a knee brace, pocket my iPhone (aka time eater), plan my time rigorously so that when we get to the part where we just be...I just will...

And maybe this year will be different.  At least for the two or three minutes I remember I am doing this.