On appleseeds and other lovely hopeful things.

5.02.2019



"I want an apple seed."

He says to me, the boy who's been avoiding food all day, who doesn't like apples. I take it as my opportunity to perhaps entice him to eat one of the fruits he's banned.

"Well, the only way to get an apple seed is to eat an apple."

It works! Sort of. He takes one bite, and then remembers. He spits it out and gives up his effort.  Fortunately for him, his shadow -otherwise known as brother- comes along and decides he wants a snack.

I return to the kitchen cleaning and hope I wont be picking up apple bits for the rest of the day. Ten seconds later (about) the baby has half the apple down and has eaten a seed or two for sure (arsenic threats unknown.) He's on his way to consuming more. I cause him to pause and pull the seeds out before handing it back to him.

My middle child lays hold of one of those shiny little shapes, and darts out of the room. We're in my bedroom now and I am not entirely sure what he's up to. Ten seconds later (about) I hear a door slam and I hear him tromp up the stairs, satisfied grin on his face. "I planted an apple seed, right over there mama. "

He's proud. and he whispers under his breath "now I have an apple tree."

I was about to remind him of reality. The improbabilities. The likelihood of apples. But I didn't. His hopeful sowing was enough to remind me that, I don't really know do I? He did plant it in a bed, not in the grass. Perhaps there's more hope than I realize.

Perhaps, now he has an apple tree.


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We met the neighbors. And they're darling as any neighbors could be. Welcoming, kind. Offering wine. Plus with two kids right around my kids age. Complete with an  already pledged eternal friendship and schemes for a secret path through the woods. The past few days have been rather painful for my daughter, since the very day after she met her future eternal best friend, Eli got sick. Thus the lot of us were put under house arrest. Much moaning, many an agonizing glance out the window. Shakespearean pain, I tell you. 

In an effort to deflate the situation, to save us all from the melodrama, I'm again tempted. The probabilities. The realities of this young lady being older, of busy schedules, of not getting hopes up. If I kill the dream before it grows, I wont have to deal with the pain of watching her realize its doom (if it perhaps is doomed. However unlikely.)

Fortunately, I'm noticing that there are (atleast) two ways to kill a childhood, one is not having one at all, the other is introducing the 'shoe drop' phenomenon. Just wait for it. Disappointment will come.

I remember an older woman exclaiming praise that God doesn't show her all that's ahead of her in life. She commented that had she known God would have her walk through all the valleys, she'd despair. She was a hopeful woman, who was so brave in the face of grief the words falling from her mouth made little sense. She carried an optimism I was bewildered by (and a bit jealous of.) 

That optimism is often elusive for a brain such as mine, I've found. I can conjure it, but it is fought hard for. I often wish I could just.see.whats.coming. Just let me have it, Lord. Let me make a plan. I remember telling Ben that while living overseas, during the hardest season of our entire life in our marriage, my brain was quiet. I was taking the next step every morning, but I knew the proverbial 'shoe had fallen.' Our marriage was struggling, and I didn't really anticipate it getting much worse between us. There. Then. My brain was quiet and at work at repairing. 

While all this is true, I'm hopeful this doesn't pass on to my little ones. My daughter already has a keen sense of seeing the ends of her ways (mighty bits of wisdom for a little girl.) and she sadly anticipates the dreadful much like myself. 

We have two sayings, between her and I. One is stolen from wise old Hagrid, "What's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does." We say it every time we're tempted to fret. It helps. and the second "Every day has disappointments love,  but it has even more good bits. We get to find the good bits." 

Getting to meet the neighbors? the potential of an epic friendship? That was a really, really good bit.

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I have often had moments when I get to view myself in the 'fight or flight' scenario. And, I'm quite surprised and proud of myself for the way I get to work when the hard bits happen. I'm in the fight category. Which has its pros and cons. 

Kid breaks their face, I jump up and move towards. Blood gushing everywhere, I'll put a stop to it.  Ben and I tease each other. While I'm the fretful one in calm, I'm also the first responder. If the zombie apocalypse were to happen (don't talk to me about zombies, I hate scary conversations.) I'd like to think I'd just let myself die, but we all know better. I'd be protecting all the babies.  Perhaps all the probabilities allow me to already see how to respond in those situations, so I don't have to formulate. Consider me for your team. I'm learning how to homestead.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm coming to terms more and more with who this nearly thirty year old self is. In her best and in her heaviest. In the coming of terms, it's also allowed me to view the 'terms and conditions' of my life and to see the characters I get to share air with.

Of those, my children are profoundly shaping who I am as their own unique shapes form. I see in them a hopeful narrative that makes room for an even more hopeful narrative in me. Even if my tendency is worse-case-scenario. The apple seed that may be a tree, the neighbor who may be the bosom friend. The fort built for the play date. The making room for what we hope.

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There was a study done  in which students were able to interact with aged-virtual-realities of themselves. The study aimed to see if those who interacted with older versions of themselves would later make choices that were more long-term minded, particularly in financial realms. The study found a seriously positive correlation.  Those that could see themselves as older, made choices with their older self in mind. . 

I found out about this study on instagram and the writer prompted the readers to consider their own selves (I think I've written on this before), in an older form. I recommend the practice to anyone. 

There are skill sets I definitely hope to have acquired in my old age (being well-read, having a garden, for starters.) but what stuck with me more was the hope of how I'd feel interacting in the world at large. I have a version of myself that I can see, and I really like that lady. I was a bit surprised however, because she wasn't quite as in shape as I perhaps would like to convince myself she could be. Nor was she quite so accomplished as I spent the last two decades deciding she would be, but she was calm. Unafraid. Closer to Home.

Moving some place new always causes a bit of turbulence in my brain, and my husband-praise God for that man-isn't really alarmed by my anxieties or my tendencies to try to create structure in unknown spaces. I remember asking him once if he thought I'd always be this way-referring to some heavy few weeks of OCD tendencies and fretting-and he said as honest as one does, "it's possible." 

It was of great encouragement to me that he wasn't alarmed by the possibility.  Such a gift, to be so fully known and loved, as Pope Keller says. It was an even greater encouragement when that same week I read in Galatians about how Peter-the same follower who had the fear of man so thoroughly in him he denied his beloved savior, then saw him resurrected-is rebuked again by Paul due to that same fear of man. He was rebuked for changing his behavior (and in a way denying the fullness of the gospel again) by eating only with Jewish people instead of the gentiles. 

You might ask, how can this be of encouragement? If a man who walked with Jesus, who struggled with ugly bits of his humanity pre and post Jesus' Resurrection, is still struggling even after facing the Jesus crucified and resurrected, What hope is this for us?  Such a great deal of hope! It gives me a glimpse at who's qualified to be hope bringers. Jesus told him that his very church would be built on Peter! Furthermore, I need to remind myself that struggling in ways I have chronically does not cause God pause in his working to make me new. Peter was still beloved and called, even in his stumbling. So am I. All the more, it makes heaven and the Christ I hope in all the sweeter.  

I know all these little paragraphs seem to be bouncing around in fragmented ways, but perhaps a few of you see the connecting points. 

My aim is this, I'm discovering more and more just how much hope there really is laced in the cloudy overcast days of apple seed planting and aching glances out windows.

 There's hope for the likes of us somewhat anxious ones. There's hope for the apple seed sowers, and there's a undeniable dose of hope that God is working to make things new regardless if we see it.  Even in this season of new normal, budding friendships-truthfully still a lonely season, and building a new life, I'm  forever reminded that as David says "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

What a gift to get to be part of the sowing.

Boston Children's Museum :: New England Adventures

4.13.2019

Boston is a straight shot down from Concord. In about an hour, we can be at pretty much any part of downtown. We're slowly taking opportunities to explore it as our friends come through or we have something come up (like a few weeks ago when we got to meet the Finnish Honorary Consulate and make a trip to IKEA) This week, some dear friends from Alabama were here for a convention, so we asked if we could grab a quick breakfast with them before they had to be back at it.



We decided to check out the Flour Bakery, as per a friends suggestion, and it did not disappoint! Breakfast was awesome. We also spotted an owl just hanging out in one of the trees, which was pretty epic for three little ones. (It did freak me out a little when he kept watching Rowan walk to and fro-I think he was trying to see if he was a small enough snack.)  We definitely plan to go back to grab a snack of our own. It's located super close to the museum as well (walking distance) so we were pretty grateful to get to see our friends, then hope over for a few hours to visit the Children's Museum.


While pretty expensive (even those under two pay full admission price.) It was packed with activities that were gross and minor motor skill oriented.  Our kids had something to do in every single room, which I was impressed by. Hardly anything was nailed down (which can be a common trait of some 'childrens' museums.)  It's super stroller friendly and has bathrooms everywhere. Once you leave the museum, there were several places to eat as well as decent parking options when you arrive(we found a spot right away on a Saturday morning.) If you come to Boston with kids, I think this might be worth checking out.

Glad to have had a chance to visit.




Ice Castles :: Adventures in New Hampshire

3.29.2019




When I first googled things to do here in NH, I discovered the Ice Castle attraction. Unfortunately, their last weekend here was the weekend we moved, so I chalked it up to something to visit next year. In an absolutely awesome turn of events, the cold weather lasted long enough that they extended the opening weekend until we could go. We were able to visit the very last weekend much to my delight!




They had Disney Princesses. And horses. And slides. and epic icicles.

When we first walked out the wind was pretty forceful, so I was a bit worried it wouldn't be a good visit, but as soon as we entered, we were shielded. We all absolutely loved it.

Rumor has it that in the evening, they light up the place with different colored lights. Since our littles were still a bit too young to push too hard around 'dark' we hope to make it out in the evening next year.

If you go, I'd highly recommend wearing boots and leaving the stroller. They say as much on their website and it makes a great deal of sense. They have locations through out the U.S. and I definitely think if there is one near you, it's worth checking out.

Hotel Living.



When we were on the house hunt, we got to stay in a hotel for a few weeks before moving to an airbnb and then moving into our home.  One thing that always surprises me is just how small a space feels, and then how it quickly grows large enough.

I have so many thoughts I'm still processing over this entire move to New Hampshire. We felt it coming back in October, but I assumed a move wouldn't be for another year or so. I remember being pretty pumped that 2019 would be a 'chill year' especially since I had found so many incredible women to journey through life with there in Alabama.

So to then, come February, be on an airplane moving to a place we've never been (which has been our track record at this point) was a bit of a ride. I was basically just holding on to the hope that at the very least, the autumns would be pretty.

When we moved to New Hampshire, we immediately looked at homes the next day. The market here is so different from the south, homes we loved last week were already gone.  So to find the house we hoped for and put an offer on it over the weekend, and had it accepted...well, it all felt a bit crazy but totally the norm here (praise God he accepted the offer, as there were two other offers on the table as well.)

A month later, we moved in. A few days after that we slowly began the process of unpacking all our belongings and finding a new home for them. We keep reminding ourselves. "bit by bit."

Now that we're six weeks in, two weeks in our new home, looking back at the photos of our time in our hotel feels like ages ago. I think that is the nature of things when we feel like we're mostly underwater.

Ben's work has been a bit of a change of pace from Montgomery. While not crazy amounts of overtime yet, the demand is much higher, meaning new norms for all of us. On the Homeschool front we've found a promising co-op, and an exciting group through wild+free. I've found quite a few more resources on the homeschool front, which has been a major beacon for me. It feels like a really good move on that front.

We've attended a church that we're really enjoying, but are often reminded we're not in the south anymore. People are slow to warm up, which while expected, reminded me of that long season of loneliness I experienced when we first moved to Finland.  I've cried my share over the realities of no longer being 'known.'

While it isn't nearly the same (friends are coming much easier this time around. Praise!) It still has been good to do some heart work on how much identity and function can be shaken in the unknown for me. I've learned it takes about a year for me to feel like I know which way is up, another six months to feel like a place is our own. After that, its a bit heartbreaking to leave a place. Knowing how long it takes, it really has just been a reminder of taking things day-by-day. Hoping to be surprised if the pace quickens, rather than being discouraged when it feels heavy.

While we're familiar with transience, goodness we are excited to feel a sense of rootedness.

When we moved (and much of the reason we chose to say yes to this move) it seemed promising that New Hampshire would be long(er) term for us. While we aren't sure whether we'll get to be here for the duration of the project + production support any longer (perhaps it was always wishful thinking? only time will tell.), we're still grateful for the time we have here and especially grateful to be out of the hotel space.

Fortunately I've learned, regardless of what space we inhabit, we know how to have a good time.

About a year ago, I began unpacking just how much 'fear of man' played a role in so many of my decisions. I think its been a trying, but seriously encouraging thing to see the way God has carried and called out some of that trust in moving us again. Remembering to present myself genuinely, and without pretense has often been absolutely terrifying (Type enneagram six, where ya'll at?) as I calculate worse case scenarios. Yet, the more I realize that 'for such a time as this' we get to be here, the more I realize there's work prepared in advance for us to do, the more I feel bold enough to just keep showing up.

a total "yay god" as our dear friends in MN used to say:  about three weeks ago Eowyn commented "mom, I still don't have any friends." at bedtime. I responded "me either, baby." and it was absolutely crushing to realize how long it takes to establish friendships. My prayers that night were pleading for God to allow us some connections.

This week, the girl can list three girls by name that are her age that she thinks will be future friends. In the process, this mama has met some pretty beautiful souls as well.

"bit by bit." God keeps showing me he's gone ahead and I'm resting in that.

We moved!!!

3.24.2019


We received word when we returned from Christmas Holiday that Ben will be taking up a new position with his company in New Hampshire.

We felt the move coming for a few months, but predicted it would be a bit further out (we waited for a whole year before moving to Finland.) so for it be as sudden as it was was a bit of a whirlwind.

We've been here for about a month and a half and have since bought a house, found a church we hope to call home and most importantly, got a library card. :)

Our home is on about an acre of land, so all my garden dreams are running wild. We've got just a few more rooms to set up, a trip to IKEA and a enchilada date on the calendar.

Bit by bit, we're setting up shop.

I always forget just how long it takes to feel like things are home. This constant moving takes its toll and this mama. While we accepted the position hoping it was going to be more long term, it very may be for just a few years. Either way, we're going to enjoy the time we have here, I think.

It really is a lovely state.

We've already gone to see Ice castles! (More photos to come later.) As well and visited Maple Weekend where you can tour sugar houses.

We hope your spring is shaping up nicely, ours feels a bit like...well spring. The groaning of change, mixed with the hope of what is to come.

While this is the quietest the blog has been for quite some time, if you visit over on instagram (brittanysprague) I post there a bit more frequently. I'm finding as the kids get older, and we home school and delve into all our various hopefuls, I find myself less and less sitting down at the computer to edit photos and the like.

That being said, I'm not willing to let this old girl die yet. She started right when we got engaged (in the wave of all the millennials making blogs about their life!) and while most have moved over to instagram #instagramatemyblog, I still have a bit of a tender spot for blog posts.

So, thanks for visiting this mostly quiet corner over the course of all these years. Hoping to take more time photographing with my camera and less with my phone, which naturally means sitting down here to edit.

As always, thanks for reading.