Issue 32: I wrote a poem 😬 | book recommendation | chicken and orzo soup View in browser
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Issue 32: May 20, 2020
I wrote a poem 😬 | book recommendation | chicken and orzo soup

Dear Sisters,

Lately, I've been filling my extra time with less Instagram scrolling and more activities I enjoy. For me, that has looked like gradually trying some new things. A couple weeks ago, I started running in the mornings (not every morning, but a few times a week)—just a slow mile or two, no speed or distance goals. Before I begin running, I walk and go through the morning session of my Daily Prayer app. It's just a few prayers from the Book of Common Prayer along with the day's scripture, but it's been so grounding for me.  This morning, I left earlier to allow myself more time to explore and possibly run a little farther. I saw so many flowers, still wet from the dew, and an impressive array of wildlife—a red-tailed hawk, a chipmunk, a rabbit and lots of birds and squirrels—not scared off by loud humans just yet. Beautiful hymns sung by my favorite artist of all time played in my ears. At one point, I cried. I haven't cried in months. 

I've never considered myself a morning person, but this morning was beautiful enough that I might just be convinced. Something magical happens before the world wakes. New things are good. 

Another new thing I am trying is poetry. I've been so inspired by several poets I follow on Instagram, including my friend Sarah

In case you haven't noticed, I have a lot of words. I am always trying to explain every bit of my thinking, making sure no one could possibly misunderstand or be offended by my words. In person, when I get nervous, I'm one of those people who talks MORE and then ends up laying awake in bed, picking apart my ramblings and wishing I had kept my mouth shut. 

In my speaking and writing, I could learn to say more with less. 

So... here is my first poem. Of course, it's about my kids. 🙃


First child love
is so loud.
All obsession and anxiety—
one hundred photos a day.
Life will never be the same.

This love feels like a hurricane,
projected paths mapped out
every possibility imagined
anticipation building until it wrecks you—
weeping in the middle of the night
from gratitude and exhaustion,
terrified to let her cry
amazed at her presence.

But second child love
has to be quieter— 
Big sister is sleeping.
A few photos in hand-me-downs.
Life will never be the same.

This love is a sudden summer shower,
quick and unexpected.
You’re busy walking,
putting one foot in front of the other.
And then
you’re soaking wet,
giggling and wondering:
How did I not see this coming?

How about you? What new things are you trying out these days? Seriously... I want to know! Just reply to this email and it comes straight to me. :)

Love, Jill

Book Recommendation: Julie Buxbaum's "Hope and Other Punchlines"

Since my AirPods arrived last week, I've read THREE books (via audio, of course). I use the Libby app to check books out from my library, and I listen throughout the day in quiet moments—when I'm feeding Hazel, folding clothes, doing dishes, watching Julia play in the backyard, etc. You'd be surprised how much you can read 30 minutes here and there! 

One of the books I read this week was a cute little Young Adult novel. I have a super hard time allowing myself to read fun books because there are so many amazing things out there to learn from nonfiction. That's another new thing I'm trying—reading for fun. 😅

Now, before you get this book, you must know I am NOT a literature snob. This is not a great work of art or a life changing read. It's just a cute a teenage love story wrapped up in a 9/11-themed package. It has a happy ending, which we all need sometimes!

The summary: 

"Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka "Baby Hope") wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.

Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She's psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.

Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it's a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?"

Let me know if you read it! 

Wisdom from an almost 100-year-old poem

In my junior and senior years of college at Auburn, my second home was this quirky used bookstore called The Gnu's Room (for those familiar with Auburn, that building is now Mama Mocha's. I remember when Mama Mocha herself was just a barista at the bookstore). It smelled like old books and was a maze of shelves filled with tomes on just about every topic you can imagine. Strangely for conservative, Southern Auburn, it was owned by a lesbian woman. Tina and her partner were wonderful people who created a unique community for everyone. It really was a special place. There were concerts and readings in the evenings, but during the day, people came there to buy coffee and use the WiFi. I did that, of course, but I also bought books. Tina always told me she loved that I actually bought books. One I found there that I still have was a book of poems called "Harbor Lights of Home" published in 1928 by Edgar A. Guest. Guest's poems weren't anything special from a literary standpoint, but like I mentioned above, I'm no snob.

As much as I'd like to be edgy, I really appreciate some wholesome, family-centric content, and that's 100 percent what Edgar set out to do with his writing. I was reminded today of this little book for some reason, so I found it on my shelf and started flipping through it. The handwritten inscription in the front says, "To W.T. Sledd, Jr., from Aunt Etta, Christmas 1938." 

This poem jumped out at me and made me laugh—some things never change. 

Our House

I like to see a lovely lawn
Bediamoned with dew at dawn,
But mine is often trampled bare, 
Because the youngsters gather there.

I like a spotless house and clean
Where many a touch of grace is seen,
But mine is often tossed about 
By youngsters racing in and out.

I like a quiet house at night
Where I may sit to read and write,
But my peace flies before the tones
Of three brass throated saxophones.

My books to tumult are resigned,
In vain my furniture is shined, 
My lawn is bare, my flowers fall,
Youth rides triumphant over all.

I love the grass, I love the rose,
And every living thing that grows.
I love the books I ponder o'er,
But oh, I love the children more! 

And so unto myself I say:
Be mine the house where youngsters play.
Oh, little girl, oh, healthy boy, 
Be mine the house which you enjoy! 

Must-read article (long, but worth the read)
The Prophecies of Q

American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase. 

By Adrienne LaFrance (The Atlantic)

Read the article
Recipe: Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup with Dill

I know it's hot outside, but for me, soup is a year-round thing. Not sorry. Soups are my most favorite thing to cook and are DEFINITELY Julia's favorite thing to eat. Tell the girl something is soup and she will at least try it. Our whole family is digging this simple recipe lately. 

Lemony chicken and orzo soup with dill

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit. Photo is theirs! I keep forgetting to photograph my food. Must be the two kids thing. 

Start-to-finish: 40 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Chicken breasts, thighs, whatever you like and however much you like
  • 6 cups chicken broth (bonus points for homemade!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon juice 

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery and carrot until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, let cool and shred (or do what we do and cook the chicken ahead of time and just dump it in at the end). 

Meanwhile, return the broth to a boil, add orzo and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chicken, dill and lemon juice, to taste. 

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