Holding Butterflies

Not too tight, not too loose

First Sunday in Advent, December 3, 2017

This week’s lessons Welcome to Advent, and year B in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). We have a lot of changes from Ordinary Time that we’ve been in since our class started in August. Before we dive into the readings for this week, let’s get oriented to where we are. Last week ended Year A in the RCL’s three-year cycle through the Bible. You’ll remember that we spent a lot of time with the Gospel of Matthew, and that our Old Testament readings were chiefly about the Patriarchs and Exodus. This Sunday we start Year B. Our Gospel readings will mostly come from Mark, although we will have other Gospel readings as well. We will talk about those as we get to them. Our Ordinary Time readings will be about the kings (especially King David), but we won’t be in Ordinary Time until Pentecost in May. Until then our first reading will correspond to the Gospel reading. (So will the Psalm and second reading.)  For the first few weeks of.. Read More

I’m excited to show you my new house.

Welcome to our house! Excuse the mess; it’s still under construction. But we are getting close. We’ve owned two houses in twenty years, but in those houses Bill and I have finished basements, gutted a kitchen and bathroom, installed extensive hardscaping, and built pools and decks. This farmhouse is our first (and last?) experience in new construction. Building the house wasn’t even on our radar a couple of years ago. We had finally emerged from an extensive to-the-studs renovation of the main floor of our house, and we were happy with most of the results. At our horse farm, we had acquired a ten-acre tract that gave the farm its “natural boundaries” of Shoal Creek on two sides and roads on the other two. Included in the purchase were the two meth houses (actual meth houses, I wish I were kidding) on the property and the right to boot their tenants out. I like to say that Coweta County should have paid us to tear down those houses because everyone’s.. Read More

Week in Review, 5/6

We’ve had a jam-packed spring, which culminated in a huge string of days last weekend. Here we go… Matthew’s Junior Prom was last Thursday. A sweet group of kids met at the farm for pictures, and then they were off to One Midtown Kitchen for dinner and the Fox Theater for dancing. They ended the evening back at our house for breakfast and some time to just hang out. One fun note:  one of the families has a 12-passenger van. The kids decided to save a little money (actually a LOT) by taking the van, and Bill got to drive them. He had a great time watching the Senior Walk at prom and just hearing them chatter on the way to their big night. And every single one of the kids fell asleep on the way home! Saturday was a divide-and-conquer kind of day. Matthew visited Service Academy Day to talk about the nomination process with representatives of the Georgia Congressional Delegation. (This is a great opportunity to learn more.. Read More

Travel Odds and Ends

Thank you for reading my series! Even though I missed a couple of days, I have had so much fun recounting our family vacations as I’ve written this series. Since October is over, though, I’ll close with a few thoughts about doing the unexpected. Some of our favorite vacation memories come from doing the thing that “other people” do, not us. The thing that seemed too fancy, or indulgent. It turns out they weren’t. They were, well, just awesome things to do. We hired a private sailboat in Maine. The wonderful captain and his mate took us out for a two-hour cruise up and down the coast near Ogunquit. We got to pass under the (drawn) drawbridge, we saw whales, and all the kids got a turn at the wheel.  Bill had taken the kids out on a larger boat, with a larger group, to go deep-sea fishing. The opportunity to have the sailboat all to ourselves, though, was a real treat. (It’s the Silverlining, if you are ever near.. Read More

While You’re Out

This post is a little random but I have some thoughts about what to carry while you’re out and about. Traditionally, I carry a large handbag or backpack when we are out sightseeing. It holds my (large) wallet, the camera, a guidebook, maybe a water bottle, sometimes a sweater. It’s convenient in case we make a couple of purchases while we’re out, because they could be tossed in the bag, too. Back when the kids were little and we had one in a stroller, we would stow that backpack under the stroller and our hands and back were free. I think I just never backed away from the large bag even though I certainly didn’t have diapers to carry around! A couple of weeks ago in Barcelona, though, I left the big bag in the hotel room, and carried a tiny cross-body bag along with my camera. Inside my bag I put a few essentials and my Moleskin (more on that in a sec). It was awesome! My hands were.. Read More

Smile for the Camera!

You, Mom. Yes. YOU. Of all the ways to remember our trips, photos have always been the best way to preserve those memories. And I am in almost none of them. My number one photography tip is to make sure that the photographer gets in front of the camera a little bit every single day. In my family, I’m the shutterbug. That means that I have tons of shots of things that I’m interested in, and of course tons of shots of my family. But they have almost none of me. And now, years later, I wish we had more. It doesn’t matter if you feel ugly or fat. First of all, you aren’t, and second of all, ten-years-older-you will just be glad to have the pictures. I have a feeling she will be a lot kinder to you than you are right now, too. And if Dad is the photographer in your family, take the camera out of his hands once in a while. I promise, PROMISE, the day.. Read More

Don’t forget to remember.

I love that the French word for remember is “souvenir.” That’s exactly how I feel about the things we’ve bought in our travels. After a lot of junk purchases, I’ve discovered a couple of basic ideas for buying souvenirs while we’re gone. That apron I’m wearing in that picture is one of my favorite purchases, and I think of Windsor Castle every time I put it on. Plus, it is super-useful and just a great apron. After bringing home, and then tossing out, more junk than I’d like to admit, here’s what I think about souvenirs. Create a collection. For many years, if we were somewhere where I could buy handmade pottery, I would buy a pitcher. Honestly, I had to stop because I just don’t need that many pitchers! Having too many things just sitting around is annoying to me. My husband insists–INSISTS–on a coffee cup from every single place we go. I finally had to get him to move his collection to his office at work. He is.. Read More

When Bad Things Happen…

Even on vacation, life happens. We’ve had bickering, exhaustion, stitches, broken bones, and IVs while away from home. How do you keep the bad things from taking over your vacation? Plan, but don’t cast those plans in stone. The name of my blog is “Holding Butterflies” because that is how I feel raising my kids–I hold them, but not so tight that I damage them, and not so loose that they don’t know I’ve got them. Hold your plans the same way. How many times have you had to cancel a playdate because of a cold or just not feeling good? Life happens on vacation, too. Make sure you’ve planned adequate down time. I don’t know about your kids, but mine don’t get along perfectly 24/7. Somehow, though, I always feel like they should get along extra-great while we’re out of town. Quiet or alone times probably happen at home while you aren’t really paying attention. On the road we have to be a lot more intentional about building that.. Read More

In Praise of Small Museums

The Louvre. The British Museum. The Smithsonian. Huge names. Huge museums. Sometimes, they really are too much. And it’s easy for them to dominate your attention. But today I want to encourage you to look for the little museums in your travels. When I pay to go somewhere, it’s easy for me to feel like I’ve obligated us to look at Every. Last. Thing. And then, before we’ve realized it, we are spending all our time in dimly lit halls, peering at who-knows-what. I’ve learned to look for the small museums for get our “fix” for the vacation. As a bonus, it’s far easier to get my crew to agree to an hour or two in a museum rather than a very daunting “Let’s spend the day!” On the way, we’ve learned that the out-of-the-way museums can offer experiences that the big guys can’t compete with. Off-beat topics: One favorite is the Sandwich Glass Museum in Sandwich, Massachusetts. We almost drove right past it, and what a loss that would.. Read More

Private Guides

I know, it sounds crazy, over-the-top extravagant. But let me tell you about our experiences hiring a private guide. In 2014 we took a trip to London during the summer high season. We expected crowded sites to be overwhelming, so to help us plan our trip we hired the completely delightful Henrietta Ferguson for a few days in the city. The first morning she met us at our house. I loved her immediately when she asked if she could just “pop in” and take a look at our Victorian townhome. She had our day’s itinerary worked out to introduce us to London on the first day, and then to see the major sites in a way that would hopefully be efficient on the rest of the days. We began our day at the Churchill War Rooms and continued to Westminster. As we were making our way to another museum, the insanely huge London Gay Pride parade and a lot of rain got in our way. Henrietta had seen in Westminster.. Read More