7 Quick Takes: Photos of 2013, Concluded

An anniversary treat
On August 8th, we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. Allen plans the anniversary celebrations for the even-numbered years, so it was his turn to surprise me with what we were going to do. In the evening, Andy and Alishia came over to watch the kids, and Allen took me out for dinner at a Thai restaurant and then a round of mini-golf. It was a good time, and a welcome evening off in a month that was full of preparation and busyness for the rapidly approaching school year.
Ruby's first day of school
In September, I went back to school and Ruby started going to Redland Montessori, while Max was with his babysitter in Molalla. Ruby loves school and gets a pretty awesome experience. Later this month I hope to do a feature and interview on Redland Montessori, because it is truly a hidden gem of a school that deserves more publicity. My mom, herself a Montessori preschool teacher, is funding Ruby's education right now, and for that we are very grateful. Although I do want to try my hand at homeschooling when Ruby is older, I can't possibly give her the space, materials, and Montessori expertise that her guide Betsy Black offers, so I'm glad she's getting this opportunity.
Soooo tiny!
Golly Moses, he's already so much bigger than just a few months ago! Anyway, no surprise that the October picture features baby Ben, who oh-so-compliantly waited to be born at his scheduled c-section. It's quite amazing to think about the differences in personality between all of my kids, but Ben really seems different than his older siblings in a few ways. He's the only one who will take a pacifier; the other two flatly refused them. He's the only one who has not needed swaddling and swinging in the electric baby swing to calm down and sleep well; he actually can go to sleep peacefully in his bassinet most of the time. He is by far the calmest and most mild-mannered baby I've had. Ben is still sleeping in his bassinet (he'll be 3 months old tomorrow); by about 6-8 weeks the other two would skootch themselves into all kinds of uncomfortable positions, like so:
I did not put him in there like that, fyi.
But Ben just sleeps peacefully on his back right where I put him down, or else just kicks his feet around. Ben is the first with whom Allen has had the truly magic touch and can calm him down immediately by putting him in the football hold. Works like a charm! He was slower to smile but now that he knows how he favors us with grins all the time, and I think he coos and gurgles and "talks" a lot more than the others did at this age. He puts up with an awful lot of tough love from his brother and sister with nary a squeak. He is, so far, quite a mellow fellow…and I appreciate it a lot!
Thanksgiving at home with turkey burgers
November was a rather life-changing month. My thirtieth birthday was on November 1st, and I asked myself this question: "What will my life be like ten years from now, when I turn 40?" I thought about what I hoped for. And then I wondered, "Will I still be ruled by fear of what other people think? How would my life look different if I weren't so afraid of what other people thought of me?" It was a scary question to ponder, because I am kind of a people-pleaser and I have a really hard time with the fact that sometimes there are people who don't agree with, like, or respect me or the choices I make. I get a bit upset when absolute strangers in traffic make faces or rude gestures at me because I made some driving error (or they just happen to think I'm going too slowly, or whatever). I get absolutely ill when people I love and care about aren't pleased with me. I feel sick to my stomach, can't eat, can't calm my racing mind, and just generally become a ball of nerves. I think God probably knew what He was about when He put me with Allen, because Allen is, um, not particularly a people-pleaser. So we tend to balance each other out. Anyway, I thought a lot about how my life would look different if I weren't afraid of upsetting other people, especially family. And the two things that came to mind were that I would (A) not be afraid to consider the possibility that I might have to stop teaching full-time and (B) not keep my research of Catholicism hushed up out of fear of causing hurt feelings, and maybe even--if my researching and soul-searching led me there--be willing to join the Catholic Church, even though that would definitely rock the boat. Of course, I decided it would be too scary to do either of those things, so I just kept pushing on with my course to keep on keeping on. Then postpartum depression. Going back for a week. Nervous breakdown. Finally had to admit to God, myself, and a whole lot of other human beings that I respected, looked up to, and felt responsible to, that I could not manage my life anymore and had to quit my job. So that was rough. I think it took until December that I finally decided that, what the heck, I might as well just be more transparent with the whole kicking-the-tires-of-Catholicism thing too, even though it did stir up some feelings. But, really, is it reasonable or fair for me to want everyone to like me and my opinions and beliefs all of the time? Is it reasonable or fair that I should get to control everyone's perceptions of me? Is it reasonable or fair that I always have a halo over my head in every circumstance to every group of people?
Yeah, November was kind of life lessons month.
The fam (or part of it)
I already posted nearly all of my pictures from December already, because December was my blogathon month. I really didn't even know how much writing was there waiting to pour forth until I had the time to do it, and it has been pouring forth, yea verily. And I just want to say thank you to all of you who read this blog at all and a BIG thank you to those of you who read it regularly. It means a lot to me that my chronicles of the big and little events of the Cooks are actually meaningful to people besides me.
Well, there you have our year in picture form. Jennifer (who hosts the whole 7 Quick Takes phenomenon anyway) mentioned in one of her takes about summing up your year in a word. How would I sum up 2013 in a word? Hmm. I guess I would have to go with surprising. There were many surprises this year.  Some delightful, some difficult, but all of them were news to us.   I asked the hubs, and he said his word for 2013 would be "rely," because it was a year of undulating times, good and bad, and reliance on God had to be constant whether the situations were good or bad.  Because of a year of practicing this reliance, Allen and I both have felt a lot more peace even though he was again laid off on December 26, just like last year.  Last year it was highly unexpected and really threw us into a panic.  This year, it was not as unexpected (due to the nature of the industry he's in) but we also have had a year of living the reality that God provides what we need when we need it in a variety of ways through a variety of sources.  We were more psychologically prepared, I suppose, to live in the uncertainty that a layoff brings.
What about my word for 2014?  That is, is there a word which I hope to raise as a banner over the year ahead; a word I hope will inform and describe the year that has just begun?  I think that my word for 2014 will be graceful (in the sense of full of grace, not necessarily in the sense of being lithe and nimble).  This is something of a cop out, because every year of my life has been full of grace, whether I've realized it or not.  But I hope that I can be more appreciative, receptive to, and expressive of the grace which is given me in this year.  Grace was my given middle name (when I married, I legally changed my middle name to Lowe because I didn't want to lose that connection to my family), and my mother-in-law enjoys pointing out that connection between being a gracious person and having Grace as my middle name.  Hopefully I will continue to live up to that former middle name of mine in 2014.  
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. Graceful... I like it. Enjoyed reading your 7QT, too. Happy new year and may God bless you abundantly in 2014!

  2. That driving thing? I do that, too. People pleasers, unite.....?



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