Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A New Word of the Year

It took me several days before I settled into a word for the year for 2020. To be honest, I don't think a word of the year is required. I haven't done one every year; in fact, I think it was 2014 when I last thought hard about having and committing to one to focus on.

This year I decided to spend the year thinking about courage. As I was looking at definitions I settled on this: courage is strength in the face of pain or grief; the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and avoidable presence of fear. I kept coming back to this word and arguing with myself about it. I'm not fighting a horrible disease or on the brink of bankruptcy so I thought courage might be a bit too ... bold of a choice. I could settle for something "easier" like joy or gratitude! But no. I couldn't shake it and started to settle in and see what it might look like for me.

Courage means taking a bold step forward even when you are pretty sure you are going to mess it up. It means trying something new, even when it seems like it's too late. It means admitting I like something even if it's super nerdy and not hip. It also might mean admitting that something isn't that great for my life and that it's time to sever ties from it. It means trusting God even when I don't know what the next month, season or year will look like, and for a planner-girl that is h.a.r.d.

There is obviously way to more to unpack here, but I'm slowly starting here. So, for the first three weeks of January what has that looked like, from the trivial to the hard?

  • making a hair appointment after way too long. (The last haircut was so bad, I had to have my then 12-year-old clean up the back after two trips to the stylist). 
  • signing up for a crochet class in February. My mom made afghans for me and my sister and all the baby blankets for the grandkids and I started to feel a little sad that that was fading away.
  • commiting to a Whole 30 in February (plus one day in January) ... for real. I've done a couple what I would call faux-30s, but I need to reset my eating habits and taste buds. I'm needing all the courage I can get to break a diet coke and sweetened coffee habit!
  • showing up in hard places when I don't want to because it's where God wants me to be. (Vague but it needs to be right now).
Some of these things are super silly but there are fears associated with them of failure, rejection, pain, and baggage. Making some progress in a few smaller areas (looking at the dreaded hair cut and trying the class), will hopefully gather momentum as the Lord takes me to other areas he wants me to step out in the coming months, both internally and externally.

Soli deo gloria.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Week in the Life 2019

Once upon a time, I liked to scrapbook. A lot. I read scrapbook magazines, bought scrapbooking books, read alllll the scrapbooking blogs. You can guess where a chunk of my play money went, too. 😉 I loved this creative outlet. In a sense, it was my form of gratitude journaling as I documented school memories, places we went, books we read, etc. However, as it's gotten busy, scrapbooking has taken a backseat to schooling, teens, all the driving, and just life. Scrolling through other people's photos and adventures took place over documenting our own. (Sad, but true!)

This week, I'm taking back a little bit of me. I miss writing and story telling and taking photos. I've found an old Week in the Life kit I purchase a few years ago from Ali Edwards and have dusted it off. (Quite literally with the dust!) I'm making plans to be mindful of next week. What I do, where I go, what I eat, what I'm reading, and what I'm grateful for. While I'm also working on getting back into the swing of our family's Project Life albums, I think this project will mostly be for me. I haven't decided if and/or how much I'll document online. I don't want to pronounce that I'm going to blog every single day ... that's a sure-fire way to set myself up to fizzle out by Wednesday. Maybe an occasional photo on Instagram here or there, but maybe not. This is about really being present and so grateful for MY life and no one else's.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

April's Reading

There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason as to when I get on here and post a reading up date. I used to be more consistent, but that has fallen by the wayside. Either way, I felt like sharing my April books tonight so here I am. We'll see how coherent this is as it's approaching bedtime, but I'm trying to hang in here for bit longer so I can make sure kids go to bed at a decent time. (I miss little kid bedtimes!)

I read nine books this month - most on the lighter side. They were:

Seed of Rebellion (Beyonders #2) by Brandon Mull (a reread) - I started rereading the Beyonders in March (I think?) when I was wanting something familiar. So far, anything by Brandon Mull is a great story and since I'd read these before, easy to pick up and put down when it was busy. Also, I only own books 1 and 2, so after finishing this, I wasn't dying to go on to #3 since I already know what happens!

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman - I have listened to Emily Freeman's podcast of the same name on and off again - I'm just not a great podcast listener! It's too easy for my mind to wander when I have earbuds in and no words to follow along with. I was a last minute orderer of her book, but I really did enjoying seeing her podcast live and breathe here and it all made so much more sense to me on the written page than in audio. Decision making wears me out and the guiding principles and thoughts she shares in this book are golden - many are just common sense, but sometimes you need someone to tell you that it's ok and give you a couple nudges if you are wrestling through big decisions. This book was that for me and I'll be revisiting it.

The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton - This was a series I recently spotted at our library. They had books 2-4 on the shelves, but no book 1 so I found an inexpensive used copy online and ordered it. Such a fun little book. Reminded me so much of Swallows and Amazons or the children in E. Nesbit tales. I've finally gone back to the library and gotten my hands on a sequel or two to this series and want to revisit these children in May now that school is winding down! This will be a read-aloud with Ethan soon, I hope!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I read this one to fulfill a requirement for the Modern Mrs. Darcy bookclub that I'm working through with a few friends. The category was a book recommended by someone with good taste (I think that's the gist ... it's late and I'm not being exact). My friend Amy at Hope is the Word has talked about this one several times and it was already on my shelf so it made an easy pick. As I told my friends in the group, I couldn't decide how I felt about this book. It was very unique in the way it was written (I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read it), and it was extremely well done. Maybe because it was a WWII book from a child's vantage point that made it harder. I'm glad I can move this from my to-be-read pile, but I don't know that it will go down as a favorite or one that I'll reread though it would be a good book for a younger reader without much of the atrocities that come with other WWII reading.

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis - Ethan and I knocked another Narnian tale off our list. This is my favorite story, mainly because of the conversation between Aslan and Shasta when he finally meets the great lion and realizes that he was with him all along the way, from the moment he was abandoned as a baby to the dangerous moments on his journey. It reminds me so much of the verse: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

Bluecrowne by Kate Milford / The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford - Sometime in 2017, I fiiiinallly read The Greenglass House which had been tucked away on my kindle for ages. I was completely mesmerized by that book, along with it's sequel, The Ghosts of Greenglass House. (I need to go back and reread both one of these days). These two books are prequels to the Greenglass books, telling the story of the Bluecrownes who where sailors (privateers) and the original owners of the Greenglass house. I'm already eagerly looking forward to another prequel coming out in this series later this year. Super fun reading for junior readers.

Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin - The last book I finished was one I found on my bookshelves that Natalie had brought to me. Sometime last year, I signed her and Ethan each up for Amazon book boxes. I've it set up where they rotate who gets a box (they come alternating months) and if we spot books we are interested in, we make our selection and set it to ship. (And when nothing catches our eye, we pass on the box with no penalty). It's the first time I've done any kind of a book subscription service and we've really enjoyed it. This was a book that came in Natalie's box sometime last fall - she devoured it and immediately brought it to me to read. I confess, I read 20-30 pages of it and set it aside. It didn't grab me so I moved on. However, as I was cleaning my office this weekend, it surfaced and I finished it off in about two days. It's fairytale in the style of Grimm, a little on the dark side, but with an unexpected twist at the end that I enjoyed. If you like Jonathan Auxier's books like The Night Gardener or Peter Nimble / Sophie Quire, you would probably like this, though it's much shorter and without as much wit and depth. Definitely more fairy to it, if that makes sense!

Hank the Cowdog by John Erikson - Ethan and I finished a second read-aloud this month! We blame spring weather and new chairs on the front porch entirely! He has been reading the Mercy Watson books aloud to me and I have been reading Hank the Cowdog to him. This has been recommended as a book for boys so many times - we needed a break from Narnia (and to be honest, I'm not sure about reading The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle to him now. I know he's going to miss all the cool stuff that makes those books magic!) This book was perfect for an 8 year old. Hank is trying to solve the mystery of who is killing chickens in the coop and he gets into all sorts of predicaments along the way. Ethan loved it so much that he immediately requested that we find a copy of Hank #2 (which I now have on Kindle) and we're already one-third of the way into it. That said, there are 62 books in the Hank the Cowdog series (last I checked) and we are NOT going to be reading them all out loud! But I'm hoping I'm piquing Ethan's attention enough that he might be interested in reading them on his own soon.

Lots of fun kid-lit books here this month - I always seem to default to that when my brain is heavy and burdened with other things. Now that we are about 17 days away from the end of our school year, I'm looking forward to even more reading - my library hold list is crazy!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Currently, April 2019

Listening ... to the sound of a boy watching nerf gun you tube videos on a Friday night (he's living his best life right now) and an Avengers movie on my computer.

Waiting ... until it's time to go pick my oldest up from her job (!) and then I can get pjs on and head to bed.

Field-tripping ... with the boy to see a real tyrannosaurus rex. Not gonna lie - these Jurassic Park fans were very, very excited! Locals should check out The Earth Experience in Murfreesboro. It's small (and not too expensive), but was a great way to wrap up this year of school where we studied animals and plants, and their systems, and ended the year with a study of rocks and minerals. 

Counting ... the days left for our school year. (We're in the twenties now!) Our school girls finish up the Thursday before Memorial Day, and our goal is for the homeschooled crew to finish up right about then. We may have a boy with 1-2 math lessons to tack on, but thankful we aren't straggling into June this year.

Cheering ... all the baseball.

Baking ... my mom's strawberry pie. True signs of spring and Easter.

Planning ... a stay-cation sort of summer this year. We trekked to England last year, and the year before we took a two-week road trip to California. This year (for the most part), we are staying put. (See also: teenager with job). We've got a few days we're going to drive to visit recently moved grandparents in Kansas, and one overnight trip to Memphis to visit the zoo and Ikea. (Mom's pick). 😉 I also am now realizing, as the girls especially are getting older, the weeks fill up fast and fly by with VBS (helping, not attending now that they are too old), a middle school camp for one, and many days at the pool.

Cleaning (out) ... all my materials from directing our homeschool group for the last two years. Since we have put two of the girls in school (for very good and right reasons for both of them), our homeschool organization decided not to renew my contract for the next year. I get corporate policies but I loved directing and visiting with moms and tutors in that role, and was not ready to move on past it. It will be nice to get all the stuff packed up for its new home with an amazing mom who's stepping into the role after me.

Reading ... on the front porch. He reads to me (right now it's the Mercy Watson books) and I read to him (right now we're reading the first Hank the Cowdog book). It's been a good break from our Narnia streak that we've been on since January. We've two chapters left in Hank and he's informed me that we're headed back to Narnia after that. Fine by me!

Closing ... with a photo of Kitty, just because. She here in her current favorite spot where the morning bird watching is premium. She has it good around here.