On weddings and the joy of sleeping in your own bed...part one.

Last weekend we flew to Greenville, South Carolina to see my brother marry a fabulous girl. Since my mom is originally from North Carolina, a lot of her extended family was able to join us there. We had a wonderful time being together. The weather was gorgeous and cooperated fully except that it started raining during the ceremony and everyone had to mill about inside while the chairs were moved to the reception. It was a very small inconvenience and everything was just delightful. Steph has such a sense of style and everything was decorated so well!

Everything, except darling Zoë decided that pack-and-plays in hotel rooms were unsuitable for sleeping. We left Wichita at 7 am on Friday, getting to Greenville around noon. Mom & Dad picked us up at the airport and when we got back to the hotel, Zoë did fall asleep for a little nap in our hotel room. She won't go to sleep if she can see us, so as dutiful parents we camped outside the door until she stopped crying.

That night, same story, second verse...fussed and cried loudly for a while but finally went to sleep. Woke up at 1:45 in the morning and would.not.be.soothed. We had a room with double beds, so my pregnant self and all my necessary pillows took one bed, and Nathaniel took the other. I put Zoë in bed with me, and she laid quietly for a little while, then I tried putting her back in her pack-and-play. Nothing doing. She immediately stood up and started crying.

Put her back in bed with me.

Wouldn't fall asleep. Fussed. Cried. Flopped.

Finally told Nathaniel, "Your turn..."

He took her into his bed. Up and down, back and forth to the pack-and-play. Around 2:45, we decided she just needed to fuss it out and hopefully was so tired it would only take a few minutes. Nope. At this point she was crying. Loudly. At 3 am, knock on the door (and she'd just quieted down, of course.) Hotel management. Report of a loudly crying baby on floor 5.

Right. Yes, we know. And what would you have us do? It's not like we aren't in here with her. It's 3 in the morning. She's a baby. Babies cry. Where shall we go with her?

So at a little after 3, Nathaniel, bless his Daddy heart, took her down to the hotel lobby. She finally fell asleep on the sofa in the lobby around 5:30 and he brought her back upstairs.

Up & at em at 7. My turn then and she & I went downstairs for breakfast while Nathaniel slept a bit longer.

Part two tomorrow...

Lyle sleeping...give Zoë some lessons, will you?

Loving on her cousin


Steph & Mike & their pastor

Steph & Lyle & Kim...Lyle made friends everywhere he went!


The big reveal

We didn't find out what we were having when we were expecting Zoe. Since it was our first, we loved the idea of just waiting and actually being surprised when the doctor announced, "It's a..." 

(Although to be honest, I have zero memories of that announcement. I only remember Nathaniel going back and forth from the foot of the bed to my side and at some point telling me it was a girl. But I loved the idea anyway.)

So with this one, we thought for about a half a second that we might be surprised again, or find out just for us but keep it a secret. But then we thought, no...let's find out. Our sonogram appointment was on Friday. Baby Lutke did NOT want to cooperate. The sonographer had me roll to one side, then lay flat on my back, then roll to the other side, then thumped my stomach with her wand. Thirty minutes of this. We had invited both our moms to come for the big reveal, and my mom kept giving me sympathetic looks as I was rolled and prodded. Is this a harbinger of a stubborn baby? Please, no.

But then, how lovely. We were able to tell! Hooray! 

Here are a few photos from Saturday at our veryverysmall  gender reveal cupcake fest. Thanks Jenny, Archie, Jackie & Steph for coming to be surprised. Fun, fun.

And it's a BOY!


In the midst


I made it through my first full week of part-time teaching.  It was a typical first week--filled more with lessons on how to behave in my classroom than lessons about Literature. I'd forgotten in my year off how long it takes to get your classroom working the way you want it. Since our first week was only two days long, in my mind I had myself teaching all my classroom rules and routines those days and then getting to work on Monday. Right. By Friday things were a little smoother. Not perfect, but smoother. We'd made it to the end of the week. Hallelujah.

It's been nice working again, but we're in the midst of a lengthy list of transitions. A transition for Nathaniel (a shoutout here goes to him for his superdad babysitting skills these past two weeks) being in charge of Zoe more often, a transition for me in getting ready for my classes and keeping up with all the other things I did before returning to work, a transition for Zoe in Mommy being gone more and having a nanny, and a transition for the dog--poor Henry is getting the short end of the playtime stick lately. And I've come to realize that transitions are not my favorite thing. For one, you never know how long they will last. I play a game with myself whenever I'm stressed or worried, and it goes a little like this, "Well, Carrie, it's hard right now, but remember, it's a transition phase. It will eventually get better." And usually this is true: it is a transition, and it will get better and easier and smoother, it's just that there's no promise of when.

So many friends of mine are finding themselves also in a phase of transition. For some it seems the season they are in has lasted for years. Waiting for something, or someone, or a little someone, or direction on a job or a move or just a new thing. And I don't know about you, but I've found it hard to completely trust God in all of these transitions. I think it's because so much of the time nothing is happening; I'm just waiting. It's easy to just go from day to day, knowing that things aren't as easy as they could be, feeling unsettled and wanting to be settled or for something to be decided. When I really think about it, though, it seems to me that a lot of all this is a yearning for life to be complete. If this, then this...when this happens, then this...and then I'll feel better, then I'll really know what is supposed to happen. But without transitions, there never would be change. Without change in our lives, there's no room for God to work.

My hope for myself and everyone else that finds themselves transitioning to something or away from something would find true Peace. Life this side of Heaven will never be perfect, but we can hold onto the One who is.


Beach (Lake) Baby

Kristen's in-laws have a house on Beaver Lake and are always gracious about letting us stay there. We had planned to go out for the weekend after Branson and stay the night with Kristen, then head to Beaver, which is only about a 25 minute drive. We let Zoe take a nap on Saturday and then packed up our gear. We were thinking we'd probably not spend the night, but threw in Zoe's pack and play, just in case. We pulled up, and lo-and-behold, there was a truck there parked already. Hmmm.  Somehow communication wires had been crossed somewhere, and there was another family staying the weekend. They were lovely, gracious people though, and let us share the dock for the afternoon, and weren't at all put out by us crashing their party. (And shared their floats and noodles and even gave some fruit to Zoe.)

Zoe seemed to enjoy the water, for a while. She wanted to be in the water with us, rather than in her float. It's hard to explain to a 15 month old that Daddy can't touch the bottom, so if you want to swim, you have to stay in the float. We made it work with lots of entertainment on our part. We'd bought her some sunglasses at an outlet mall in Branson. We'd say, "How cool is Zoe?", she'd put them on, make a cheesy face, then rip them off. I really don't know how some moms can get their kids to wear sunglasses and keep them on longer than five seconds. Anyone have any tips? Or is it a personality thing? After a while, she didn't want to be in the water anymore, so we took turns watching her on the dock. Well, Auntie Kristen did most of the watching. They had fun playing together.

Here's a few more beach baby photos from the lake:

Sugared donuts from Pinterest...thank you Auntie Kristen! They were addictive!



Isn't it great to be able to get away for a little while, even if it's just an extended weekend? I've been looking forward to this all summer. We left on Thursday after Nathaniel was finished teaching at Butler and headed to Branson. We planned to stay one night with my parents and just explore on Friday. It's hard to decide what to do sometimes with a toddler that still takes two naps (hooray when you're at home, not so much when you're out and about.) We made it to Missouri with not much fuss on Zoe's part...she's at the age where she doesn't much like to be cooped up anywhere, especially her carseat. She really did well, though, until the late afternoon fussy time. We had to endure her fussiness and squirminess for about an hour during which time I was half turned in my seat trying to entertain her. I ended up with a raw spot on the back of my arm! We'd brought the classical cd she usually goes to sleep to, but it was hard for her to get comfortable.  She finally fell asleep with her leg crooked over the arm of her carseat with her arm up behind her head. She woke up much happier and we made it into Springfield for dinner and then to Branson before too late. A late evening swim in the pool and then to bed for Zoe, while we adults hung out in the lobby until it was our bedtime. Traveling with kids requires flexibility! Last summer we went to Wisconsin when Zoe was only 10 weeks old. I think we might have been a little crazy. This trip was much shorter and much easier. Side note here: there are some children and teens that haven't been taught proper behavior when you're at a smallish hotel pool. We'd gotten there and had Zoe in her little pool float and were hanging out in the shallow end, right by the wall. Two boys came in--one about 13 and one probably 16--and they jumped in not far from us and started playing a game where they tried to splash and dunk each other. Mind you, the distance from us to them was probably less than three feet. I teach middle school, so you think I'd be more understanding, but really?

We didn't really do a whole lot in Branson, but it was great to be together with my parents. My aunt Barbie came up for the afternoon and dinner. We ate at the Keeter Center Restaurant at College of the Ozarks, which is about a 10 minute drive from Branson. All the food is locally grown and is served by students. We loved it and would definitely go back. If you're in the area, you should definitely give it a try. The prices are a little high, but comparable to any "nice" restaurant on the strip, and you knew at this place that everything was high quality and fresh. And the fresh rolls with homemade apple butter were amazing. I think I ate four of them. Maybe five.

Fun at the Outlet Mall

The Disney Store? You never told me this place existed...you can buy a million Pooh Bears here!

My new friend

In the lobby of the hotel, they had all these huge bears. This was our favorite place to hang out.

Pan-blackened catfish on quinoa and vegetables

Half a chicken, cooked two ways with garlic mashers and a okra-tomato salad with apple cider vinegar (This was my order and it was so, so good.)

Aunt Barbie & Dad

Love you, Auntie Barbie! Zoe's in her pj's for the drive down to Kristen's.

Happy Mom & Dad

The Keeter Center's outdoor porch


Free concerts and other summery things

Funny memory this morning, thanks to this:

Did you know you're never supposed to put an apple and a banana in the same area? The ethylene gas from the apple messes with the ripening of the banana. How do I know this, do you ask? When we went to Canada the summer after we got married, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Montreal. The man that ran the B & B did not have a very high opinion of Americans. He was condescending in every way and did not make us feel one bit welcome. In the morning, when we arrived for our scant breakfast, Nathaniel took one of two bananas that were hanging on a banana hook. He placed the leftover banana in the fruit bowl on the counter, which contained apples among other fruit. The innkeeper looked down his nose at him and plucked the offending banana from the bowl: Don't you know you NEVER put a banana... And all I remember thinking was, Really? Did you really just correct a paying customer about a BANANA? So anyway, I guess I didn't really learn that lesson well. That poor ripe banana.

But I started writing about free concerts and other fun summer outings. So many things to be thankful for today: a quietly napping baby, dinner at NJ's and the Spiderman movie with Nathaniel last night, (Zoe-keeping courtesy of his parents...thank you thank you), the upcoming prospect of working part-time and stretching my brain (I have been having such fun lesson planning...well hello teacher nerd), and free events in the summer.

Thursday evening we went to a free concert at WSU, part of their Art for Your Ears concert series. We got to hear Gretchen Peters. They had free ice cream and free ice-cold water bottles, and the whole event was lovely! They have one per month in the summer. The next one is August 2nd. Read here for more information.

These were pint sized water bottles dipped in orange paint!

I hope you're finding fun things to do this summer!


The Unnecessary Burden of Guilt

I've a well-honed sense of guilt. Some days it doesn't come near me, but on others, it causes me to slump around and become lethargic. It creeps over as I'm gazing at some household chore I dread or some task I started and didn't finish. (Although, thanks to Real Simple magazine, I have been given a wonderful insight into chores...they said to check the clock and time yourself on whatever chore you hate the most, and be pleasantly surprised that it really doesn't take that long, and really isn't worth putting off. I mean, really, emptying the dishwasher and reloading it took all of 6 minutes. I dread 6 minutes? But I digress...)

This morning I didn't graciously allow my wonderful, hard-working husband to sleep in. I did let him sleep in, but not graciously. While he was sleeping, I was gracious, and fed Zoe and kept her quiet, but once he woke up, I was decidedly ungracious. I wanted him to pop right out of bed, raring to go, aware of all the chores I was quietly working on and rise to the occasion of helping me clean the house from top to bottom. Well, this obviously didn't happen, because he'd just woken up. He was still sleepy.

So this matter of feeling guilty. I felt guilty this morning about not being gracious, but mostly what I was upset about was that he DIDN'T feel guilty about sleeping in. Because I would have. So he should have.

Isn't that the most warped thing? So as I took our in-laws' dog out for a walk, I pondered my attitude. I feel guilty a LOT. And I know I do, and I know I shouldn't. And so I feel guilty about that. I feel that I should use my time better. I should read the Bible more. I should volunteer more often and take more meals to sick people or people with new babies or the neighbors across the street. (Although I did make a blueberry tart for our neighbors last week but they weren't home at the time I tried to take it to them, so then I brought it back home and stuck it in the fridge, forgetting about it until I threw it away this morning. But I don't really feel guilty about that, just forgetful.) When Nathaniel is gracious (and he is much, much better at this than me) and lets me sleep in, once I wake up, I feel guilty. I feel that I should have gotten up and taken care of Zoe and done all these things that he did while I was sleeping.

So I'm still working through all this and trying to figure out why my first inclination is to feel guilt. Perhaps it's my background of Calvinism? Sin is ever before me and in me? I long to move into the wideness of God's mercy, and as I learn it, to pour it out over others. And this thing of wanting others to feel guilty because I would have really has to stop.

Is it a faulty view of myself in light of God's grace and mercy? Or a correct one? The church we attend has a saying they often repeat: Until sin is bitter, grace cannot be sweet. When I first heard that, I thought, "Yes!" Until I can see myself in the light of God's incredible perfection, I can't realize how much I need Him and what He did for me. But on the other hand, He sees me as His child. When I think of Zoe, even when she does something I tell her not to (like throw Pooh Bear in the kitchen trash can), I still love her immensely. Do I feel that I let God down in my actions or inactions? As His child, He looks on me and smiles. This burden I carry over things that don't matter is unnecessary. An attitude of guilt keeps me from God's purposes of fully living.

And that's what I mean about moving into the wideness of His mercy. I want to learn to accept that for myself and be able to freely give it to others.


Fun with Daddy

Yesterday was quite fun. We went to Saturday night church the night before (a first for us, and I can see why people enjoy it...you get your whole Sunday free!) We went out to eat for breakfast, then to OJ Watson park to go paddleboating and to eat snowcones, back home for a nap and then to Nathaniel's parents' house. All in all a really wonderful day. Thanks, babe, for being such a great Daddy to Zoe. We love you!

Eggcetera in Old Town...they have a really wonderful Greek omelet


Following the Yellow Brick Road

Zoe LOVES to swing. Woe to us if she sees swings in the distance at a park.
Once she sees them, it's all over for us!


Zoe's first trip to the beach

Oh, how I love the ocean. I wonder if it's because I live smack-dab in the middle of the country, miles and miles and hours and hours away from the coastline. Or do I love it so much because I have such happy family memories of beach trips? Whatever the reasons, I feel like I'm coming home when I get a glimpse of the water and smell that salty air.  I really wanted Zoe to experience the beach this summer. When my side of the family ended up deciding against the beach trip (due to a really great reason: my brother's fabulous upcoming wedding in October in South Carolina), I was disappointed to not have a week at the beach.

But it ended up working out! We just got back from a week on the East Coast visiting Nathaniel's side of the family. We started in Raleigh and then visited his sister Rachel in Chesapeake. One day the weather was forecasted to be mostly sunny, so after Zoe's morning nap, we packed up and hit Virginia Beach! It was only for two hours, but boy were they glorious! Thanks, Rach, for organizing this crew for a most wonderful outing!

Watching Veggie Tales to pass the time...are we there yet? 
She wasn't sure about the sand at first

Ooh, don't take me too far out!

I could absolutely live here. Sorry, Kansas!

Mama and Zoe

Beautiful Auntie Rach

Cousin J

Conquerers of the sandcastle! Uncle Than with K, I & J!


Fun with names


Zoe was always on our list of names. We wanted something different but not so different that no one could pronounce it. (However, I've now heard of people mispronouncing Zoe...rhyming it with "Joe" instead of "Joey." Huh.)

So for your time-waster of the night (or day, depending on when you read this), these neato tools will show you the rank of names.

This one will show you a graph with the rankings throughout history, starting with the census of 1880. Carrie was incredibly popular as a name in the 1880s...topping off at #22! In the 70s it had another peak at #41. Zoe has just broken into the top 100 this past decade. It was #31 last year.

This one will show you a map of the US and where names are the most popular.

Have fun!


Motherless & Childless Day


Celebrating mothers is wonderful and I'm glad I was celebrated yesterday with flowers and lovely bagels from Panera. I called my mom and while I didn't get to see her, I am so very, very thankful for her. I celebrate and salute her! She is just incredible and so important to me.

But this post is dedicated to all my friends who wish to be moms and who aren't yet, for my friends who have lost their mothers, for my single friends who one day hope to be mothers but want God to provide a husband first, and for all who decline to go to Mother's Day services because it's just too hard.

Yesterday was hard for many. Holidays like Mother's Day are often reminders of things that are missed or missing.

I thought about each of my friends that were a bit sad on Mother's Day and my good intentions got caught up in busyness and I didn't call or text. But you know who you are and I hope you know I love you.

Happy Monday after. Blessings to you today!


Author! Author!

This post is in honor of my amazingly talented, way too humble husband, whose article "The 'Memel Problem:' German Memelland in the History of World War II with an Aim to its Proper Placement" was just published in Wichita State's history journal the Fairmount Folio! Way to go! This is the start of many wonderful things to come... Babe, think about this moment and think about the HOURS and HOURS and HOURS that you spent researching, writing, rewriting, footnoting, double-checking, rewriting things that were already done because the professor didn't know true Chicago Manual of Style... Think about all of the coffee fueled late nights you spent in the straight-backed chair in your upstairs office... And realize, hey, I worked crazy hard for this. I deserve to be published! And I deserve some donuts from the Donut Whole! Okay, okay! After work we'll take you there and you can get whatever you want. So proud of you!

With the other honorees at Watermark Books
With his Mom & Dad

With proud wife & slightly concerned daughter

Zoe's current favorite game that Opops taught her

Omgosh, I see a dog! A dog-dog! Right there on the shelf!