Greetings from the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina!
(At least I think I’m in the western part of the state. I keep trying to look up my location on a map, but every time I’m interrupted because my one-year-old has found a crayon and is writing on my aunt’s white couch or is pulling a lamp off the table.)
Anyway, it’s absolutely beautiful out here, and my aunt and uncle couldn’t be more gracious and welcoming. They have a little guest house separate from their own house, and it’s the perfect place to pass the time in between my cousin Melissa’s wedding in Raleigh last weekend and my cousin Jason’s wedding in Raleigh this coming weekend.
Taking one-year-olds to evening wedding receptions: NEVER AGAIN. Well, I’ll be doing it again next weekend for my other cousin’s wedding. But then NEVER AGAIN.
I actually suggested that we spend the day hiking yesterday. I know! Me! Hiking!
The final seconds before he realized he hated the wrap with the intensity of a thousand suns.
My perception was that hiking would be a good way to relax and enjoy the outdoors as a family, spending precious moments bonding with the kids and appreciating the beauty of the natural world.
Let’s all take a guess on how it actually turned out. Do you think the best way to describe the experience would be:
A) We relaxed and enjoyed the outdoors as a family, spending precious moments bonding with one another and appreciating the beauty of the natural world.
B) The baby screamed the whole time and made everything so impossible that we had to leave 0.02 miles into the trail.
Alas, internet, it was B — and it wasn’t because he didn’t like the woods. He loved the woods. He loved them so much that all he wanted to do was get down and explore — which was a problem since he’s still not walking and the ground was very muddy.
Any time I tried to hold him — or, heaven forbid, attempt to wrestle him into the baby backpack I just bought for $30 at Wal Mart, which he reacted to as if it were a torture device called the WRAP OF DOOM — he shrieked so loud that I’m pretty sure that all the wildlife scattered for at least 10 miles.
Whoever is keeping the official list of Things that Are Not for Jen, please add Leaving the House with a 1-Year-Old.
I did, however, learn two interesting lessons on our ill-fated trip into the great outdoors:
1. My Vibram Five-Finger shoes made fantastic hiking shoes. They allowed me to grip onto slippery rocks and navigate uneven terrain in a way that I couldn’t have with thick-soled shoes. (Plus, they made me look SO COOL.)
You can laugh about how nerdy I look, but I won’t be able to hear you because I’ll be running up slippery trails like a boss.
2. It turns out that being outside isn’t a categorically negative experience! When I don’t have to face clouds of stinging insects, 100-degree heat, and thorns and cacti that scrape my ankles with every step, I actually kind of like hiking!
Yesterday my aunt and I were strolling around the town square, and we ran into a great young mom she knows from her parish named Deborah McKinney. Deborah sells these amazing essential oils, and she offered to come up here to the house to do an Oils of the Bible class for us.
Deborah would read a passage from the Bible that referenced a certain oil, then pass around a vial containing the oil while she talked about its traditional religious and medicinal uses.
She said that she always uses a mixture containing patchouli oil to help her kids relax at night — and, sure enough, after she massaged it into my little wild man’s feet, he did settle down!
It was a fascinating class, and you can check out the great oils she sells here (scroll down to see them)!
I’ve heard that smell is heavily associated with memory, and have found that to be true countless times when I catch a whiff of something I haven’t smelled in a while, and it immediately transports me back to the place and time when that smell was a regular part of my life.
When I was doing Deborah’s Oils of the Bible class, I realized that smell can also be a powerful way to relate to the experiences of others. For example, at one point she handed me a little bottle of frankincense oil, and I realized, This is what Mary smelled when the Magi came to greet her.
As we went through each oil, it was a surprisingly impactful thought exercise to realize that I was experiencing a scent that would have been familiar to Christ himself. When I whiffed the spikenard, I was rocked by the realization that this is what the room smelled like when Mary, the sister of Martha, anointed Jesus’ feet as described in John 12:3!
It makes me wish someone would do a Smells of the Rosary collection, where you could use a difference scent for each mystery, like myrrh for the Crucifixion, or frankincense for the Nativity. I bet some clever person could come up with all sorts of scents that would bring us into each mystery in a new way.
The DC book tour trip is final! I’ll be all over the greater DC area from September 25 – 29! Final details are still coming together, so I’ll wait to post the schedule until everything’s set.
In the meantime, it looks like I might have a few pockets of free time to check out the city. Since I won’t have a ton of space in the schedule, what are the top three things I should try to see while I’m in DC?
After I put up all those pictures of the Edel Gathering, someone pointed out a wonderful little detail that I’d missed in one of the pictures. Notice anything special about this one?
Let me zoom in…
How precious is that?
Have a great weekend, everyone!