Friday, June 26, 2015

Taylor and Arrows and Podcasts

It's Friday morning and the air is breezing through the windows in the very best way. Silas is up cleaning his office and blaring Taylor Swift's album because IT'S HIS JAM. He really loves "Picture to Burn", because it has the words "stupid" and "hate" in it. And I know it's wrong. I do. I should probably shut it down. The only problem is, sometimes things are stupid. Some things are kind of worth hating. Sometimes angsty kids need an appropriate channel to vent the stuff they spend all their time squashing. Who's to say Taylor isn't the answer?

(Sidenote: I have now blogged about Taylor Swift twice. Life is weird.)

 Poor Silas. He shuffled into our bedroom at 7:30 this morning in a full-on whine and I was all, " we go..." Then he said this, "I didn't get my money. The tooth fairy forgot. Again."

Again, people.


As in, it's officially a "theme".

We can't be trusted with stuff like this. We're great okay with big picture stuff, but details like this evade us. At least there's the clause that if the tooth fairy is "too busy" and "doesn't get around to all her stops", she leaves double the next night.

(BUT WE'RE STAYING WITH FRIENDS TONIGHT. If we can't remember in our own home, what hope do we have in unfamiliar surroundings??)

And we wonder why he's so obsessed with Taylor and that stupid. old. pick-up truck he never lets her drive.

Since we're on the subject, this morning Si asked, "Mom, does X-Box work with Samsung TVs?"

We have never owned a gaming system of any kind and if my life depended on it I couldn't have told you we had a Samsung TV. I feel like he's got a shipment coming in. He's made a few calls from his office. He's working a deal.

In other news, I shared photos of our quirky, summer-fun living room over at Midwest Living.

And...I recently spent an hour gabbing on the phone with my new friend, Jamie Ivey for her Happy Hour podcast. You can listen in right here.


It was so much fun to be a part of Happy Hour. I'm new to listening to podcasts, but hers was the first one I ever listened to and I've listened to tons of them now. She does such a good job, and it makes cleaning the basement or walking laps feel infinitely less mundane.

That's all for me.
What are you up to today?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vacation in Pictures

Warning: I'm about to test your limits on the acceptable number of photos in one post.
But to offset my, uh, extravagance, I'll keep my commentary brief.

You've heard that before.
I know, I know!

All I really need to say is this: Cory and I spent more time IN the actual ocean on the first day of this trip than we did during all three of our past trips (sans children) combined.

Oceans creep us out, okay?

And don't make me humiliate myself again by confessing that I can't swim.

The point is, vacationing with kids is pretty rad. It honestly could have gone either way. But we know things now, and the main thing we know is that we already want to go back.

I'll warn you, these photos will paint a fairly rosy view.
Just stay tuned for the next post, where I'll smack all our hineys back to reality.

"I'm proud of myself!"

The well-worn path from the pool to the condo.
(I got in the pool every single day. Who is Vacation Shannan???)

When you need to frame your world, just look up.

Makin' pancakes like ya do.

The atmosphere called in the big guns for us every single night.

(Related: next time I go somewhere beachy, remind me to only pack 1/10th of what I think I'll need.)

He be flingin'. Erryday.

This is how the kids felt every night at dinner when we were waiting for our food.

Art journals.
(Long Live god!)

Breakfast and lunch were in the condo every day.
Dinner was out. Except for when it was in-ish.

When you are Silas Park, the only option is to pick it up and sweep the street the whole way to Royal Scoop Ice Cream.

Also, when you are Silas Park, your mom will pack an empty mustard bottle in her suitcase for you because she adores every little thing about you, but especially the quirky way you "play".

From our balcony to the ocean. (heart eyes!)

I appreciated this rainbow confection up the way.

Bless it.

I "had" to chill out in a quiet condo a couple times while Silas slept off his residual vacation demi-rage.

My kids had trouble processing why I wanted to sit and read so much.
{Counting By 7's - READ THIS IMMEDIATELY! My fave of the year.}


"You can get up at 6:30 every day on vacation, but it's not what I choose to do." - Me

Lunch on Sanibel.

Fine Florida sand is Si's spirit animal. Or whatever.


Cory, in the ocean! Proof!

 Hours of this...

 ...inevitably lead to this.

Vacation was so good to us.

** On/off the subject - Canvas People is running an amazing sale right now - 65% off and free shipping! You can click here, or on the ad I added to my sidebar. Get it while it lasts. You can even upload straight from Instagram! I'm trying hard to narrow down my choices, but I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Heart-Wrestling on a Saturday

It's Saturday, and I'm back home in my lived-in house that loves us all so well. It's never the wrong time to return to who we are, and I suppose I'm most Shannany here, with my mug of morning tea and dishes drying on a towel.

I spent last evening inside these hushed walls, frontal-lobe deep in what it means to really be in community. What does it look like? What does it mean? How can we ever hope to make our home among the poor and hurting without delineating their lives from ours, saying, essentially, "I am well; you are not"? The hard truth is, we have to know them enough to love them. We have to understand our own poverty. We have to come nose-to-ugly-nose with the ways our abundance and wealth hold us back from the rich kingdom of Christ, acknowledging the fact that this was not the way of Jesus.
So, now what?
How can we surrender and be rescued?

For now, I'm sharing two links, and I hope you'll listen to both if you find some down-time.

The first is a TED talk by Alive Goffman entitled How We're Priming Some Kids for College - and Others for Prison. I've now watched it twice and it rocks me to my core because, oh, could I toss the stories I know into her pot and stir. These 16 minutes are vitally important, especially in light of the continuous and mounting attacks on our shared humanity at the hands of racism and hate.

We cannot love what we do not know. And we cannot hate what we refuse to acknowledge.

Lastly, I listened to this NPR On Being podcast titled The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship, featuring my ultimate homeboy/mentor for life, Father Gregory Boyle. It's him at his essence, and it will make you weepy. (Listening is so easy, just click over from the link and click Play Episode at the top right.)

"At Homeboy Industries, we seek to tell each person this truth: they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them - and then we watch, from this privileged place, as people inhabit this truth. Nothing is the same again. No bullet can pierce this, no prison walls can keep this out. And death can't touch it - it's just that huge." - Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

May this weekend be one more step along our path to growth and loving more fully. I'm proud to call you part of my community and grateful for the chance to learn together.

*Thank you, Jenn, for sharing the TED talk with me and thanks to many of you who alerted me to the Father Boyle podcast. I have the best reader-friends ever!

*Amazon link

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dinner & Books - Summer Ed.

If I'm being totally honest, my multi-cultural palate is probably owed to my kids more than anything. Become a mom to a bunch of kids with vastly different roots, and you start to notice and care about things you didn't use to notice or care about.

It's not that everyone operates like this, it's just that I was always content with Pineapple Chicken prior to 2006, which doesn't really even count as Chinese food.

I once ate at the Indian buffet when we lived in DC and it didn't ring my bell. "Too stewy," I said. Like a fool.


This is a recent home creation, and it knocked all our socks clean off. It's seriously something special.
And if it sounds too complicated, it's totally not. You probably just need to go to bed earlier tomorrow night or take a mental health day. WE CAN MARINATE CHICKEN IN AROMATIC OIL. I promise we can.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Thighs
Indian-Style Stir Fried Cabbage
Mango Salsa - Dice one mango and one peeled cucumber. Stir together with the juice of half a lime, salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro.

Since food and books pair together like, well, food and books, I'm going to go ahead and blab about what I've been reading.

Very different from his other books I've read, but insightful and an easy read.
I don't read parenting books very often, but this is the kind that reminds me of what a gift it is to guide our small people (and taller-than-us people) with intention. I want to be a more grace-giving mom. I'm tired of parenting from a place of fear (mostly of what other people will think) or worry. This is an excellent read.

My friend Kim loaned me this one because it still had time left on it at the library. It didn't wow me, but I finished a novel! I haven't done that in a while.

This is so freaking fun and fantastic and thoughtful. It's kind of like Jen Hatmaker's 7, only grittier. It has given me tons to think about and she's a great writer.

Kid reads:
Made me cry. #adoption

Super whimsical and full of wonder, with great illustrations.

Every little brown girl needs to own this book! It made Rubes smile so big.

Calvin = obsessed.
Example: "Mom, if you could be the daughter of any of the Greek gods, who would you pick?"

Ruby = obsessed.
These seem so odd to me. There are a bajillion. Sports fairies. Flower fairies. Science fairies. Gymnastics fairies. (???) Weather fairies. (Not even playing.) Baby Animal Rescue fairies. Rock-and-Roll fairies. School fairies. Not to be outshined by...the Green fairies. (Again, ????? To all of it.)

I found this at the thrift store (holla!) and had to bring it home. It's such a cool little book about a boy who lives in the city, in South Africa. Africa! You're so rad and varied, with so many layers and so much to teach us.

That's what we're eating and reading.

How about you?

Monday, June 15, 2015


We're on the first-ever Martin family vacay, and you can't even imagine how geeked we all are. We've thrown caution to the wind and are allowing our kids to order pop at meals sometimes - and they don't even have to share!  (what.)

(Sidenote: We're not anti-pop, just total cheapskates.)

I've got a stack of books and my SPF 50.

I'm contemplating profound things and profoundly contemplating the beauty of lolling about and shirking most responsibilities.

I'm not sure what you have planned this week, but my agenda begins and ends with tossing all my cares to sea.

Be back soon, skaters!

PS - My most pressing question right now: AM I allergic to shellfish? My entire life, I wasn't. And then somewhere around 2002, I was. Maybe. So I've spent the past decade+ thinking I'm allergic, though I've never been able to resist swiping a shrimp when it's in my proximity, and I've never swelled up. Now, here I am, in the land of plenty, and I'm feeling a tad overconfident, but too scared to really chance it, because no one wants to be the mom with lips the size of her clawhands on the first-ever family vacation. At least there's the taco stand. ("There's always money in the banana stand.")

The end.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Buy The Tie

My heart was captured when I met one kid without a dad and watched the trajectory of his heart change when a man began to call him Son.

Since then, you might say I've become fixated.

This is a plight. It's a crisis that doubles up on itself, one problem leading to another, and then to the next. It's a root, and before you know it, it's a lifetime of reaping pain and regret. It's shame in full bloom, disguised as anything but.
"'Everyone has given up on me,' they think, 'so why should I care about anything? Why should I even try?'" - Fatherless Generation - John Sowers
I see them everywhere now, notice the way their self-worth has bent itself around that dad-shaped void. They're shined up, tough and sturdy on the outside, but it's empty on the other side of that front, and they're prone to cracking.

What exactly does it mean to a "grown" man to walk up and sling an arm around his dad's shoulder? To ask to borrow the lawn mower? To tell gutsy (foolish?) truths to the one person he knows will talk about a better way? At what age does that young man outgrow the urge to yell "Hey, Dad!" whenever his friends are around because it feels good to be able to say it? (Please say never.)

How long does it take for that void to fill or, more importantly, is it even possible?

It is so possible.

But I look at that grown man and the way my heart beats for him and I can't stop wondering what life might look like if we'd found each other sooner, or if there had been someone else affirming and guiding him until it was our turn.

I believe in mentoring with my whole heart.
Cory, surrounded everyday by the fatherless generation populating the jail, believes in mentoring with his whole heart.

My friends at The Mentoring Project beat their drums to the belief that the fatherless story can be rewritten.

This Father's Day, they're urging all of us to stop buying dumb ties for our dads and instead, donate to The Mentoring Project and help recruit, train and match mentors to dad-less kids. (In return, they'll mail your dad (or you or your friend) a personalized card and an amazing gift of your choice.)

I am so moved by this creative, passionate work. I love to partner with meaningful projects, but they didn't ask me to do this. I simply couldn't help myself. This was a no-brainer.
God is on the move, redeeming broken places. He's banging his chest in the stands for every lonely kid trying so hard to play it cool. He's screaming his head off. He's rooting for that boy, waiting for him, out-of-his-mind crazy about him.

The biggest shocker? He lets us be part of His grand scheme, offering a front-row seat to watch for ourselves the way empty places can turn into new beginnings. 

"Turning ugly ties into family ties"

*amazon affiliate link

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Community Begins at the Grocery

So, it's Tuesday, a full day with a slow start. One of my favorite kinds.

Today, I get to practice hospitality among acquaintances and friends I haven't met yet. I'm bound to do it imperfectly, but as Calvin's violin teacher told him yesterday, "I expect you to make mistakes, because if you're not making any mistakes, you're not trying." 

Those are words to live by.

On that note, my latest column is up today in our local paper. It might give you a different perspective on my life and where I live, but I imagine you'll also see yourself in my words, and certainly someone you know who has taught you a thing or two about how to be a friend.

One of those people in my life happens to be the produce guy at the grocery store. I run in for a head of romaine and two limes and leave feeling like I've been seen. He's teaching me how to be better at community, and I'm taking notes.

Happy Tuesday, friends.
Hope today reaffirms your wildest hopes.


Aside from being fed, housed, and generally cared for, each of us holds the desire to simply be known. The heart longs to be valued, and that’s not likely to happen among strangers.

As a transplant from the tiny Ohio town that raised me, I find Elkhart County particularly gifted in the art of knowing. I’m embarrassed to admit that at one time, moving to the “big city” of Goshen intimidated me. A few years later, I rarely run an errand or grab a bite to eat without running into a (new) friend. Bit by bit, it’s changing me.

Just last week, I was perusing the granola bars in my favorite grocery store when the man working in produce asked me if I needed anything, his eyes lighting up like he really meant it. He was there to make my day easier.

He asked if I’d written my next column yet, and offered a suggestion. I made notes in mental shorthand.

Click here to continue reading...

Monday, June 8, 2015

What I'm Wearing This Summer

For some reason, Calvin slept in until 8:00 yesterday, which happens maybe once a year. To celebrate, Cory and I slept in until 9:15, ignoring repeated pleas for ridiculous things like breakfast and attention.

The air was so chilly and the bed was so warm. It didn't hurt one bit that Silas and Ruby were watching Holly Hobby's Christmas just two rooms over. I've never experienced Christmas carols in June as a gentle breeze and aggressive train horns blow through the window. It was magical.

Yada yada, we barefly had enough time to get out the door to church, as evidenced by my half-baked hair and lackluster make-up.

But let me back up.

Remember when I went rogue and only bought second-hand stuff for over six months? Well, it got a little nutty. I ended up with, um, several things I'll probably never wear. It turns out greed and discontentment know no price limit, and now I'm paying the price by having a bunch of stuff I either 1) don't understand or 2) plain hate.

At the very least, save it for a day I'm not PMSing.
Save yourselves! You've been warned, and if you're still weighing your risks, keep in mind that Calvin "accidentally" pushed a brand new watermelon out of the van earlier today when we were carrying in groceries.

The point is, of all the ways I've gotten it wrong, I somehow, "accidentally" did something really, really right.

It's called the midi skirt, and it happens to be en vogue this year.

More importantly, you can find them for dirt cheap at almost any thrift store and yes, they're mostly from the '80's, but who can argue with a bold floral or a classic polka dot? Are they high-waisted? Yes. Are waistlines creeping back up? Yes they are. Did that make you think of having a wedgie? Me, too.

But we're talking skirts, people. Waistlines be creepin'. It's fine.

Plus, most of them have pockets!!!!!!!!!!

(It can be tricky to figure out a shirt situation with a high-waisted skirt. But I remembered this pin and gave it a shot. I wanted to wear my gray v-neck, but it was dirty and church started in 15 minutes. Though none of this explains why no one had my back enough to tell me there was a leaf stem on my bosom when this photo was taken.)

I bought this skirt in the fall for $2.50 and it's my new favorite. My kids thought I looked like a waitress from the 1950's. #winning!

WARNING: I'm somewhere in the size 12 range when it comes to vintage midi skirts. Shop accordingly. Be empowered, like Marilyn Monroe!

Incidentally, the t-shirt is a Goodwill find. It's totally basic, but I wear it all the time because it has a long torso.

This necklace came from my church rummage sale for $1.00 and I know it's not real diamonds, but I always secretly think it could be.  It's just that they're really sparkly and also I run a constant screenplay in my mind where amazing and wonderful (and sometimes tragic) things almost happen.

The tote? 50 cents, last week.
But now I'm just bragging.

And it's seersucker, so hate me forever.

If it helps at all, my finger-toes are naked. Bless my heart.

Since  we're practically besties and on the topic of skirts, I have some undergarment wisdom to pass along.A friend clued me into the magic of Jockey skimmies, which are basically super stretchy, nude bike shorts you wear under a skirt so you don't get sweaty inner thighs or associated discomfort. Though the Amazon reviews are correct - they do fit true-to-size, I'm going to have to take issue with Rebekah's review, which states they look "very sexy" when worn "around the house" with a "camisole." The day is never that I will attempt to be sexy in nude bike shorts. I AM DYING LAUGHING RIGHT NOW. Oh, humans, you're so weird and hilarious!

Be honest, do you feel like you could get on board with this idea, or is this just a different version of the grandpa day-jammies??

I'm dying to know.