Here is Kansas, a dark and quiet house, a fire lit and the children sleeping.
Now is cold and flu season, post-Christmas, pre-New Year's. The majority of our family has been felled by some sort of illness. Chesty coughs and strained voices abound, plus a good deal of yellow snot from the 7-year-old.
We are in America for the holidays, a month-long excursion to hug our people, spoil the kids with affection from their gaggle of aunts, uncles and grandparents (how many people can say they have six living grand- and great-grandmothers?), and raise support. It's all a bit overwhelming, but not in a bad way; in a really good, really tired, really loved sort-of-a-way.
Tuesday will see us trek north for colder, snowier destinations, so I'm trying to soak up these last few Kansas sunrises, consider all the wild unpredictability of 2016, offer gratitude for what we achieved (and what we didn't), and look to the next year without fear.
That's a big ask.
In the meantime, this is what I've been up to:
In November I plowed my way through the 2100+ pages of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin. Not everyone find escapism through apocalyptic vampire literature, but I sure did. At times hard to follow as the narrative spanned 1000 years, the story of Amy, the girl from nowhere, and her steadfast band of disciple-warriors, was all-consuming, triumphant, and beautiful.
Also on my new Kindle, a random assortment of non-fiction. I'm enjoying a deep-dive into the politics of faith as told by Michael Wear, former White House staffer and director of faith outreach for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, in Reclaiming Hope. Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren is keeping me company on my travels, and Belonging and Becoming by Mark and Lisa Scandrette is next in line.
A row of 13 Ogran/Mitchell/Hubers went to see Rogue One last night and I'm not even going to pretend to have an objective opinion. I have so much affection for Star Wars (ASIDE. The prequels are dead to me. END OF ASIDE.) that when we saw The Force Awakens, I cried with the opening title scroll. Rogue One is dark and more than a little sad, but the non-stop action keeps you at the edge of your seat and hoping for the best (even though we all know how this stand-alone story ends).
Our new serial obsession is Netflix's The Queen. This show is so nuanced, dense and emotionally rich (at times restrained, while at others bursting at the seams) we ignored the advice and binge-watched it over three days.
On the plane over, I saw the first three episodes of The Night Of (recommended for fans of Broadchurch and Serial), so now I'm hooked. Also, in the queue for funsies: Documentary Now. And we're dying to see Silence and La La Land.
For Christmas, we loved Aaron Burr -- I mean, Leslie Odom Jr's Simply Christmas, as well as Josh Garrel's new Christmas album. I really enjoyed Nadia Bolz-Weber's interview on Fresh Air and the Serial-esque podcast In the Dark.
When I look back at 2016, I realize - with some surprise - that it was my most prolific year yet. I started the year as a web editor and writer, then as quickly as I found myself in the role of sole editor of the web magazine, it closed up shop (not my fault, or so I'm told :)). Though obviously bummed, those five months of journalistic and editorial work was a boost for this not-so-old broad and I finally felt like that my Print Communications Bachelor's degree wasn't all for naught. Being able to earn a bit of income and help our family survive financially and thrive in overseas ministry is a precious gift I didn't take for granted.
After that, I found some freelance work as a copyeditor, researcher and social media curator, and now I'm writing regularly as an online columnist for VOX. I'm unbelievably grateful for all the opportunities, for the editors I've worked with, and now for a chance to write about my two loves: faith and Ireland.
Notable pieces from the second half of the year:
Aleppo and the Radical Hospitality of the Incarnation
Learning to Kiss it Goodbye
This Global Life: Ireland
Can Betty Crocker and Cheese Pizza Save the World
Comedic Self-Care for the Fatalistically Inclined
Most popular posts from the blog:
Greece, souvlaki, and a hilariously fierce gaggle of North American expats living in Europe (I'm supposed to be writing a post about this, aren't I?)
A long, dry Irish autumn
Being on a first name basis with other school mums
Working with Help-Portrait
Crisp, autumn morning walks with the husband
The eldest being old enough to babysit
Celebrating three Thanksgivings in one week
Forcing my teenager to do a little Irish jig with me
A glorious night of delicious food and Christmas charm and a very, very comfy bed at The Sheridan
Flying over Chicago
How much my husband loves Chicago hotdogs
My sisters totally getting my daughter
My brother playing Pokemon with my sons
A long breakfast with the friend who knows nearly all of my secrets
Lunches with couples who get it, get us
So there you have it. What I'm Into, linking up with Leigh Kramer. How did 2016 end up for you? Some affiliate links included.