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April 12, 2012

Well, this is it, folks: the last post on the old site! Please update your links, RSS feeds, etc. to

I like how official it sounds. :)

If you’re getting this in your email and want to continue getting new posts that way, you’ll have to re-subscribe. Just follow this link or head over to the new site and enter your address in the subscription form on the sidebar.

I’ve already added my first post over there: Easter {Small Style}. I hope you’ll come with me to my new home!


The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

April 10, 2012

Cindy asked that I keep you all updated on my goals for the year. Seeing as we’re now a quarter of the way through 2012 (when did that happen?), I figure it’s high time for that update.

You may remember that I picked my five goals by categories I wanted to work on: physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental.

Physical: Get more exercise.

This one’s a doozy to start off with. Yeah, I haven’t been doing so hot here. Like most people who make this new year’s resolution, I started off well in the first few weeks of January, got busy, and quickly fell off the bandwagon. I didn’t do any yoga for all of February and March. My new goal is twice a week for yoga/Wii Fit. I did it once last week, which is at least a step back in the right direction.

With the glorious weather we’ve been having, we’ve taken a few more walks, but I haven’t kept up with it like I want to. It always feel like such a production to get out of the house with the baby and both dogs, but when I do, it’s never as bad as I expect it to be. This one needs more intentionality and mental discipline on my part. Also, I should probably learn to be okay with just taking Sam for a walk without the dogs sometimes. I just feel guilty kenneling the dogs when I know how much they love and need walks too.

Emotional: Go on at least one date with Jeff each month.

We’ve done well with this one so far. In January we had our fondue night at home, and in February a friend came over to watch Sam for a few hours while we went to a local bookstore and played a little book-related scavenger hunt type game. March was supposed to be “Choose Your Own Adventure” date night, but we haven’t done that one yet. Sam stopped taking a bottle so our plans were temporarily thwarted. Jeff has since gotten him to take a bottle again; we just need to plan for babysitting and get it scheduled since we’ve got April’s date to squeeze in too. We’re not used to this whole getting a babysitter thing! We did take a day trip to celebrate our anniversary in March so we weren’t completely devoid of date time last month.

Spiritual: Read my Bible, pray, and meditate each morning.

I was specifically thinking of this one when I wrote this post title. I made this goal when Sam was sleeping pretty well at night and sleeping in ’til 10am most mornings. Well, we went through a couple months of worsening sleep patterns and earlier awakenings shortly thereafter, and I learned important mothering lessons about assumptions and how I function on little consecutive sleep.

Just in the last few weeks he’s started sleeping much better at night and I feel more human again. I still struggle with my mornings however. I’m lucky if I’ve showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast before he wakes up, let alone spent time in the Word, prayer, and quiet reflection.

I kept waiting for “a good time” to sit down for an extended quiet time and in so doing would miss the little moments I could sneak in during the day. Some days I’m good about using nap time wisely and for this goal, other days I’m too focused on the rest of my to-do list or on vegging out for some “me time.”

Overall, I’ve read my Bible consistently more than the last few years, but I still need work to make this a daily habit.

Mental: Read 18 books.

I’ve actually done really well on this goal, mostly because I’ve been reading eBooks on my iPod to keep myself awake during many middle of the night feedings. I’ve read six books toward my goal, which Goodreads tells me is 2 books and 6% ahead of my goal. I reviewed 5 of the 6 here a few weeks ago.

Mental: Blog and write more regularly.

I’m not 100% satisfied (re: perfectionism), but I’ve done okay with my blogging goals so far. I still have a lot of posts in my brain that I’m excited to write and photograph so stay tuned…

Overall, I give myself a C average. I’m not totally failing, but I still have lots of room for improvement. My perfectionism gets in the way often, but so does my lack of mental discipline of a tired body. You’d think I’d be getting used to this whole stay-at-home-mom schedule after 8 months, but I’m still learning and struggling.

Ultimate Blog Party is Coming

April 9, 2012

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

This Friday kicks off the Ultimate Blog Party 2012 over at 5 Minutes for Mom. This will be my first year participating in the party and I’m really excited! If you’re a fellow blogger, will you join me there next week? It sounds like a great chance to meet other bloggers, win great prizes, and just have some fun in blog land.

I’ll also be debuting my new site this week, though it will look pretty similar to what you see now. Hopefully the upgrades I’m working on will be beneficial to you as well.

Five-Senses Friday

April 6, 2012

First up, a bit of business. The blog is now Facebook official! If you’re on Facebook, I’d be thrilled if you’d go like my little page. I’m  making the leap to a self-hosted domain soon (hopefully within the next week) so that means my blog address will be changing. Hopefully the transition will be a smooth one and I won’t lose anyone in the switch, but liking Light from the Shadows on Facebook or following me on Twitter will ensure you don’t miss out. I’m also going to stop linking to most posts on my personal Facebook account.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s shift focus a bit…

Today isn’t any ordinary Friday; it’s Good Friday. A day to remember and dwell on Christ’s sacrifice of love for all humanity. Sometimes I find it hard to focus on the solemnity of the occasion because, well, I already know how the story ends. Everything culminates on Easter morning, and oh! what rejoicing there is on that day. I love the bright hope and victory of Easter! But first the Christ had to suffer and die. The darkness before the dawn. Tonight we will go to church, sit in the dim, candle-lit sanctuary, listen to the choir sing, and reflect on His death, the ultimate payment for the sin of the world. We will hear the words of Jesus, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me,” as we take communion together. We will leave in darkness and silence, but knowing the dawn and rejoicing is coming.

Today I am…

feeling: super soft baby skin; a wet doggie nose on my bare arm; warm spit-up through my yoga pants

seeing: a grocery store bouquet on the dining room table: white lilies, white daisies with yellow centers, purple irises with yellow centers, and two palm branches; maple helicopters whirling down through the air; hostas poking up above the ground and starting to unfurl; books piled up on the coffee table; laundry piled up in the basement

tasting: milk and cereal, kefir, nutella toast; turkey, cheese, spinach, bread, carrots, hummus; a handful of salty almonds

smelling: the aforementioned lilies; stinky dog breath

hearing: the soft, muffled notes of Sam’s nap time music through the baby monitor; neighborhood dogs barking; my dogs barking their reply; a neighbor mowing her lawn

Celebrating Six

April 5, 2012

Jeff and I marked six years of marriage on March 18th. To celebrate, Jeff had the great idea to take a day to retrace our steps, namely the special places in our friendship and then dating relationship. That meant heading north to our alma mater, Cedarville University, and the surrounding area. The 17th was a Saturday, a perfect warm spring day for our nostalgic day trip.

First stop was lunch in Xenia at Los Mariachis, just down the street from my apartment where I lived the summer before and during my senior year. (Unfortunately, the spot for our first dinner date and many dates thereafter, Xenia China Inn, has been torn down or else we would have gone there.)

We drove past my old apartment and the park where I loved to walk and sit, enjoying the view, gazebo, and lake.

With Mom, circa 2005:

Part of our reminiscing included getting together with special people in our life and introducing Sam to them. “Aunt Sandi” still directs the degree program where we spent many, many hours together. She also made our wedding cake as a special gift to us! We met her at one of the local coffee shops in the town of Cedarville.

Next, we drove out to spend some time with Julie at her home. Jeff and I first met in her Composition 2 class during the first quarter of our freshman year. That class was full of people we’d be in contact with for the next four years, some even longer. Fast forward three years and Julie was the director of the campus writing center, and Jeff worked for her as one of the writing tutors. She is also a published poet; if you like poetry you should check out her book, Slipping Out of Bloom.

Random, fun fact: her kids have the same names as my sister’s kids.

By this time, Sam really needed a nap so we drove up to Springfield to visit the church where we were married. It was closed, of course, but it was fun just to see the building again. I attended there for three years plus the summer of my internship, and worked with the Awana program on Wednesday nights for three years. Jeff and I attended together during our senior year.

We also hunted down a little Chinese restaurant near the church where we would sometimes go for Sunday lunch. It’s still there, but we had other plans for dinner.

We drove back into Cedarville to take a long walk around campus. It was really nice to be back on just an ordinary day. No crowds of alumni with strollers and kids galore to detract from the normal feel of campus. We poked around the student center, then walked along the lake to ENS (Cedarville is acronym crazy… it’s like another language) where we looked in on the classroom where we had that first class together with Julie.

Of course we had to visit Tyler and room 102, the hub of all things TPC (our degree program, Technical and Professional Communication). I even made us take a picture in front of the door, like the big nostalgic dork I am.

The Writing Center just so happens to be right next door to Tyler 102. We spent so many cumulative hours in those two rooms over our junior and senior years.

We continued our walk through the academic buildings, past Milner and the library and the new Bible building, over to the DMC which houses the chapel. And The Seal.

I figure now is the time to take these pictures, when he doesn’t know what I’m doing and isn’t yet sick of hearing about Cedarville. :)

Of course we had to walk through the AC (athletic center) and out to the soccer field where I also logged countless hours.

Finally it was time to head to a mainstay of every Cedarville student’s diet: Colonial Pizza. We polished off an order of cheese sticks (the accompaniment to so many dorm meetings) and most of a large pizza. Sooooo good!

Even though we’d already eaten enough to feed a small army, or so it seemed, we HAD to stop by one last Cedarville institution: Mom and Dad’s Diary Bar. Jeff snapped some iPhone pics to prove to a co-worker that penny candy still exists, and we took our “tornados” to go.

It ended up being a fairly exhausting day and we didn’t get home until after 10pm. But it was fun to catch up with old friends and walk our old paths together.

Most of our actual anniversary was spent apart with Jeff on A/V duty at church and then picking up a new-to-us Craigslist fridge with the help of some friends. We did manage to take our usual Sunday breakfast-for-dinner meal up a notch at IHOP though.

It’s been a good six years, eight years if you count dating and engagement. I’m looking forward to many more great years together, Lord willing.

Thankful Thursday

March 29, 2012

It’s the last Thursday of the month so I’m taking a break from Small Style to focus on gratitude. This month I am thankful for…

  • my local NPR station and driveway moments
  • the Lenten season, as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our glorious Lord and Savior
  • six wonderful, stretching years of marriage
  • adoring grandparents, aunts, and uncles for our son
  • exchanging ideas and sharing good conversation with my husband
  • the ministry of MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) and opportunities to serve other moms
  • the arrival of spring, bringing with it longer days and work in the garden
  • new art to cheer up neglected spaces
  • driving with the windows down
  • a beautiful rainbow visible from my living room window after a rainy day
  • deepening friendships

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

What I’ve Been Reading

March 28, 2012

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

This was our book club selection back in the fall. I’d heard much about this book when it first came out because a lot was made of the teenage author. While it’s impressive that Paolini wrote it when he was 15 and 16, that’s all that impressed me. The characters were one-dimensional and the plot was basic adventure story ilk, formulaic, predictable, and derivative. I had about 5 [short] chapters left when we met to discuss (I read a summary so I was all good); I still wanted to finish it since I’d made it that far. However, without the pressure of a deadline, I just couldn’t finish it, already knowing basically how it ended. I’m mildly interested in what happens in the rest of the series (mostly to see if my predictions come true), but definitely not enough to keep reading.
(2 out of 5 stars)

Espresso Tales and Love over Scotland (Scotland Street Series) by Alexander McCall Smith

I listened to the first book in McCall Smith’s series set in Edinburgh, 44 Scotland Street, almost two years ago. When I was looking for some light reading that my post-baby, sleep-deprived brain could handle, I picked up this series again; I’m so glad I did. While I don’t love all the story lines and characters (Angus Lordie, for example), the ones I’ve become attached to make the others worth it. I have loved Bertie, the 6-year-old prodigy, from the beginning, and Matthew and Pat have grown on me. McCall Smith’s light conversational style is just what I can handle and enjoy to keep me awake during middle of the night feedings. My previous reviews of his novels include more about his general style so I won’t repeat myself again here. (You can see those reviews here, here, and here.)
(3.5 out of 5 stars)

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Jeff has wanted me to read this book for several years; therefore, it seemed like an obvious choice when we decided over Christmas to continue our new practice of reading a book aloud together. It is the story of Macon Leary, an unassuming travel writer, of how he approaches life, and how he reacts and adapts to several big changes in his life. Macon is not your average fellow, and I see bits of my husband in him. I grew attached to him as the story progressed and he let life carry him along. The ending left me a little sad, surprised, and sort of hollow inside as I was disappointed in the final turn we see of Macon’s life. I still feel torn about the ending, but I did greatly enjoy the book and sharing it with Jeff.
(4.5 out of 5 stars)

Lost Horizon by James Hilton

This classic novel written in 1933 was my friend Amy’s pick for book club. It was a quick, yet engaging mystery story. I say mystery, but not in the whodunit sense. It’s mostly about the mystery and aura of a place: Shangri La, a utopian paradise of sorts tucked away in the Tibetan mountains. It was a fun, interesting read.
(4 out of 5 stars)



The Giver by Lois Lowry

When I saw that Amazon was selling the Kindle version for 25 cents, I jumped at the chance to finally read this modern classic. I read most of it in one sitting during a thankfully long baby nap as I couldn’t tear myself away. As a Lost fan, the set up of the utopian community reminded me of the Dharma Initiative in some ways. I didn’t know much about the story in advance, just that it was a dystopian young adult novel. Though short, it moved me to tears and made me see color in a whole new way. The ending is open-ended and ambiguous, more so than I cared for. I don’t need stories to be completely wrapped up with every last detail accounted for, but I do like things to be a bit settled.
(4.5 out of 5 stars)


I’ve just started two more fiction books: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway (Adam H’s book club pick) and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King (Jeff’s and my next read-aloud selection) in addition to some parenting-related books and our Bible study book. And I used to be a pretty strict one-book-at-a-time person. You can always see what I’m currently reading on the handy-dandy Goodreads widget over on the sidebar.

Have you been reading anything recommendation worthy lately?

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