Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you pick five?

If you're crazy in some of the little ways I am, you probably spend time thinking through your hypothetical responses to situations that will never actually happen.

A few months back, I heard someone on a talk show make a passing reference to some sort of risotto dish, commenting that if she could only eat one thing for the rest of her life, that's what she would pick.

Well. Since then, I've spent far too much time thinking over that statement. First of all, because...risotto? Really? But secondly, because I've somehow decided that it's fascinating to think through which food items I would willingly eat over all others for all time. I'm not sure what set of circumstances would bring about the decision, but I've narrowed it down to either an unconventional desert island scenario or else maybe a Panem-type, government-corrupted situation where instead of being forced into arenas to fight to the death, each citizen is limited to one food as a testament to the Capitol's power.

It's entirely possible that I've given this a little too much thought.

Won't you join me?

Here's the question:

If you could only choose five foods to live on for the rest of your life, what would they be? Bonus question: And what three beverages would you choose?

Some notes:

1. I'm saying five because one is too hard. And it's my game.

2. Calories or other health considerations are not a factor. (Again, because it's my game, and I've decided that laws of science and reason won't apply.)

3. Any list you give can be modified based on the peer pressure of other people's lists.

4. Things that go together naturally can count as one item, as long as you can make a decent argument for their relationship to one another. (Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and dip, cake and ice cream - all YES. Steak and strawberries - sorry, no.)

So. That being said, here is my personal initial list:



1. nachos with guacamole and salsa
2. Italian bread slices with herbed dipping oil and fresh tomato bruschetta
3. fruit salad with kiwi, peaches, raspberries, and watermelon
4. fresh lobster and crab with drawn butter
5. dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache

1. coffee
2. sweet tea
3. Diet Coke

Ready? What are yours?

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Image: Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, April 20, 2012

Favorite Things Friday

A few things that have made my week enjoyable...

1. favorite cosmetic item

This nail color from Revlon caught my eye at Target the other day. Maybe because of the tiny sequins mixed in with the deep purple base. Plus, it's called "Scandalous", which is just plain fun.

2. favorite indulgence

I only know of one local store chain that carries this ice cream brand, and I discovered it by chance one day. The Cake Batter flavor? Insanity. Not only does the ice cream itself have a true (not artificial and weird) cake batter flavor, but then it has actual cake pieces and chocolate icing swirled into the mix. (I know. Take a moment.)

3. favorite reading with my girl

Maya and I are nearly through Beverly Cleary's Ramona series, after having gone through her Henry Huggins books as well. Just a few more chapters of Ramona Forever, and we'll be ready to start a new series. (It might be time for the Little House books...we'll see!)

4. favorite reading with my boy

Noah tends to latch on to one particular book at a time, until he has it memorized enough to "read" (recite) it back to us. His choice the past few days has been The Berenstain Bears - No Girls Allowed, in which Brother Bear tires of Sister tagging along with his gang, and decides to build a boys-only clubhouse. All works out in the end, of course, although I think Noah night need further study of the lesson learned. Yesterday, when he and Maya were arguing in the playhouse area of the backyard swingset, he paused the griping to run over, poke his head in the patio door, and ask sweetly, "Mommy, how do you spell 'no girls allowed'?"

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Choosing to see the useful and pretty

With a blog name like In the Backyard, one might think that the backyard at my house is super awesome.

One would be wrong.

I mean, it's fine. The kids have a great time playing back there, and we sit outside some evenings to talk, and always invite a big group of people over on July 4th to view the fireworks show at the nearby golf course from the relative comfort of our yard.

But it's also quirky. The previous homeowners made some odd choices with the fence placement. The ground is uneven. Our new-ish subdivision doesn't have mature trees, so the west-facing yard is mercilessly lacking in shade in the summer months. And during this time of year? Well...we have what you might call a little bit of a dandelion problem. (Please imagine that last line as spoken by Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, because I am.)

Oh yeah. That's embarrassing.

We're going to take care of the weed issue soon. The yard was in bad shape when we bought the house, and then we've been hesitant to load the grass with chemicals, since our kids play out there so much. But at this point, it's predominantly weed.

This evening, Maya sat at the dining room table and worked very hard on a colorful paper cylinder with a base, asking me for occasional help with tape placement. Proudly, she presented her creation: a "seed flyer". The plan? To load it up with fluffy dandelion seeds, then run through the yard at top speed, letting loose a burst of white.

I was hesitant about the idea at first, explaining that dandelions are actually a weed, and we aren't really looking to spread them further. But then Mark mumbled, "I don't really think it can get worse...", and the man had a point. So we green-lighted the seed-spreading project.

She gathered and scattered the seeds for awhile.

"You know, Mommy, even though dandelions are weeds, I like them. Actually, they're really useful."


"Yes! First of all, they can turn your cheeks yellow. And that's fun!"

"And they make really good decorations for fairy houses."

"And Noah and I use the stems to get spiderwebs off of our playhouse."

"Besides, they're really pretty!"

She makes a good argument. I guess until we get around to addressing the lawn situation, I'll look at the silver lining in these very useful weeds.

Our seven-year-old thinks our backyard is super awesome. That's enough.

And this one? Well, he doesn't care what it looks like as long as he can play basketball.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two more Review/Giveaway stops on the tour!

I'm becoming completely overwhelmed by the incredibly kind reviews and support we're receiving for our book on this blog tour. It's crazy. And awesome. Crazy awesome.

In fact, I'm just really out of words today to describe all of this.

So here are two posts from this weekend that are part of the reason for my loss for words...

Joy's review of Spirit-Led Parenting at Joy in this Journey

Becca's review of Spirit-Led Parenting at The Stanley Clan

And both are also giving away copies of the book!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review and Giveaway at Love Well!

Do you know what never gets old? Never ever?

Realizing that something you've poured your heart into has touched the heart of someone else.

Megan and I are in complete awe over how God has used the process of writing a book to change our lives, and is now using our words and journeys to impact other parents. With every e-mail or Amazon review or beautiful post by another blogger, we are just humbled and speechless and so very thankful. All glory is His.

Today, the lovely Kelly of Love Well is sharing the story of her entry into parenthood and giving away a copy of Spirit-Led Parenting! Stop over and check out her review and leave a comment for a chance to win!

Spirit-Led Parenting: My Unintended Journey and a GIVEAWAY

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The blog tour makes another exciting stop!

When Megan and I first began to discuss possibilities for who we would love to have pen the preface for Spirit-Led Parenting, the name at the VERY TOP of the list was - of course - Sally Clarkson. Her books have inspired so many parents (including us), and we have considered her a mothering mentor through the years, with her incredible ministry of joy and encouragement for women.

She said yes! And wrote the most beautiful, perfect opening to our book. And we about fell over from the incredible excitement and honor of it all.

And then she invited us to guest post at her blog, I Take Joy. And we nearly fell over again.

We're there today, nervous and giddy, sharing more of our hearts and the message of Spirit-Led Parenting. (And there's another chance to win a copy as well!)

Guest Post at I Take Joy

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In which I'm pinching myself about this guest post (and another giveaway!)

I'm deeply humbled and completely giddy to be guest-posting on Sarah Bessey's blog today! I'm consistently awed by Sarah's work at Emerging Mummy, and she's Megan's other mind-twin...so we must be at least mind-cousins or something! Sarah's support of Spirit-Led Parenting has been such a gift, and Megan and I are incredibly excited that she's invited us to stop at her blogging home as part of our tour.

Join me there?

In which the rebels aren't always brave.

(Sarah has two copies of Spirit-Led Parenting to give away as well!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spirit-Led Parenting : Official Blog Tour!

Megan and I are so excited about the Spirit-Led Parenting blog tour, which kicks off TODAY! Staring at the Google Calendar page with the names of the precious friends and blogging mentors who have graciously partnered with us in the promotion of our book...well, it's just pretty incredible.

Some stops on the tour will feature guest posts from one of us, some will be interviews, and others will be blogger reviews of our book. Additionally, several posts will contain chances to win a copy of Spirit-Led Parenting!

And what a way to begin the tour today - with three stops!

- Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama has written a beautiful (as always!) post about the pressures of infant-parenting and the temptation to give yourself a failing grade as a new mother. And her words about our book blessed me tremendously this morning.

- L.R. at Little Hearts Books always features wonderful parenting resources, and we're honored that she's posted an interview with us on her site this afternoon!

- Micha Boyett Hohorst does such stunning work at Mama Monk, and Megan is guest-posting there today about finding holiness in nighttime parenting. I love it.

Here's the complete list of official stops on the blog tour over the next two weeks! Follow along and join the party?

Thank you so much for allowing us to share our hearts and message with you today. Please join us as we continue our blog tour in the upcoming weeks:

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Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Spring Break and Easter list of gratitude

Pausing today to remember the loveliness of the past week...

- Little daytime excursions with the kids - to parks, playdates, and activities in nearby towns.

- Not setting a wake-up alarm all week.

- Lazy breakfasts, late lunches, and lingering dinners.

- A first-time Maundy Thursday service with my church family. Listening to the Word read over fussy babies and squirmy toddlers. Washing each other's feet in freezing cold water. A family emergency for the worship leader meaning we worshiped to an mp3. I'd take it all - as I watched families pray over communion with their kids and speak softly about the significance of the last supper - over a polished, professional Easter service, every single time. I don't mean that as a slight against the hard work and planning that goes into the fantastic Easter services around town that undoubtedly get people in the doors. That's great. There's just something about the beautiful imperfection of a group of imperfect people, committed to seeking Christ together amidst our flaws and insufficiency, knowing that He is enough. I can't get enough of that.

- Being challenged and convicted and blessed (yet again) by Jen Hatmaker in her Easter posts here and here - two of my favorite excerpts from 7.

- A Saturday morning donut and coffee run.

- Listening to Maya's new "Easter Song" composition on the piano...multiple times.

- And in boy news, a Sunday afternoon recitation of The Berenstain Bears and the Real Easter Eggs by my four-year-old at a family gathering, complete with mid-story gas-passing and a disclaimer of, "Don't worry! That was just my bottom." Yep.

Back to the reality of bus stops and schedules today!

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Image: arztsamui / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Experiencing the Surreal: monster-fighting presidents and a bestselling book

On Sunday afternoon, I sat in a movie theater with four friends, awaiting the start of The Hunger Games. During the seemingly endless barrage of previews, I fidgeted impatiently and checked my e-mail, until something on the screen caught my eye. Because it was quite possibly the oddest thing I've ever seen.

Imagine, if you will, what begins as an apparent Civil War drama. Then imagine a familiar man in a stovepipe hat swinging an ax...at some sort of undead creature.

Coming soon, America:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

No, for real.

From the IMDB plot description:

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

I don't really know what else to say about that, other than that now you know why I was staring at the theater screen for those few minutes saying aloud, "What...is...happening?"

Yesterday was our big promotional push day for Spirit-Led Parenting. Having no idea what to expect, Megan and I hoped to see a few kind Facebook links from friends and spur a modest sprinkling of book sales.

We seem to have underestimated our incredible network of friends and readers.

Monday morning our Amazon ranking in all books was around 212,000. By Monday evening it was around 30,000.

Tuesday, in a mid-morning Skype conference with our editor, Jonathan, he told us our current ranking in the 12,000s was quite good. He also predicted that we may have a bestseller designation on our page in the near future. We promptly died.

The ranking flew to 5,000. I refreshed the page an hour later and it was 2,500. It was shortly afterward that we received an e-mail from Jonathan with this subject line: "It's official - You are bestsellers".

Spirit-Led Parenting
was ranked #37 in all parenting books.

And once again - just like in the movie theater - I found myself staring at a screen and asking, "What...is...happening??"

By last evening? Our ranking in the parenting category was #34, with a ranking in ALL books of 860. Triple digits. Total shock.

Never did we dream this would happen. Mostly because for us, it wasn't - and still isn't - our motivation. Book sales are great and exciting, and the fact that we're being told we can legitimately be called best-selling authors from here on out (what the WHAT?) is a treasure we'll hold dear for the rest of our lives. But there are two things that thrill us far more than any number or classification.

First, that our dream of sharing far and wide this message of redemption and freedom is coming true.

And second, that we were reminded yesterday once again how very, very blessed we are with a support system so eager to love us and encourage us and spread the word about the birth of this book. Thank you.

I think our next book will be a work of fiction involving Richard Nixon and his extermination of a rogue band of goblins.

Or perhaps not.

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Image: Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spirit-Led Parenting : Official Release!

It's here! The day is here!

After countless hours of work and prayer and joy and tears and decisions and research and conversation and writing and writing and WRITING, we can finally say this:

Our book, our baby, this work into which we have poured heart and soul...is born.

Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby's First Year is here! Complete and published and available on Amazon.

Somebody pinch me.

Megan and I are thrilled and humbled at the opportunity we have been given to share our stories, to tell about what God has done in our lives, and to give voice to the message we wish we had heard as new mothers.

There are some exciting things in the works for the next while: a blog tour kicks off next week, our media kit is nearly complete, and we each have a bundle of books on their way to our doors. We're excited and nervous and quite frankly this is still very surreal!

Our most fervent prayer is that, as we move into the next phase of things, we would faithfully follow the Lord's leading, and that He would have His way in it all.

Thank you so much for your encouragement, love, and prayers. You have no idea what these things have meant to us.

One logistical note: For anyone who might be planning to order a copy of Spirit-Led Parenting this week, could we ask if you wouldn't mind placing the order tomorrow (Tuesday)? We would, of course, be honored and grateful that our book would find a place on your bookshelf no matter when you order. Tuesday just happens to be a day that would be helpful in terms of Amazon's tracking of sales trends. If that fits your plans, that would be wonderful - and if not, no worries!

Above all, please pray with us that Spirit-Led Parenting would be an encouragement to new parents. That means everything!

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Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net