Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seven Quick Takes

Go visit Jen for more Quick Takes. 



In our area at this time of year we usually have a light dusting of snow that disappears by the next day- that is, if we have any snow at all. We had about 8 inches show up on Christmas Eve/Day, and it actually stayed around! In fact, it has been so cold here that school was canceled Monday and Tuesday, and then another snow storm came through on Wednesday (with another 4ish inches!) that canceled school for the rest of this week. Try explaining to a 4 year old why he can't go out in all that glorious snow when the temperature is negative.



Superman has been home all week on an unexpected vacation. His truck has spent this week in the shop because of the accident he had right before Christmas, and he has to have his truck for work. So on this little break he has been keeping tabs on the boys while I taught, working with Ender on some schooly things and keeping up the laundry for me. That's how I know he loves me- I so dislike doing laundry and because of him I haven't had to even think about it all week long!



My sister's wedding went well last Saturday. It was very cold, but not snowing, and we were very thankful for that. We are praying for her and her new husband as they step into marriage and soon into parenthood when their son is born in the next few weeks.



The other day Ezra went to the cabinet and set out his own Montessori mat, sat criss-cross in front of it and looked up at me expectantly. Apparently the child needs some work! I suppose I need to get back into 2-year-old Montessori mode. I pulled out some lacing beads and block work, but I think he may be ready for a presentation or two. Look for more toddler Montessori work here soon.



We changed up our bedtime routine over the break, and I think we're all really enjoying the change. We're starting earlier, reading longer (usually 3 picture books with both boys and then 1 chapter of a read aloud for Ender while Ezra has time with Daddy), and the boys are calmer by the time actual bedtime comes around. The boys are really liking the time spent on their own with Daddy, and that was the major change we were going for. While Superman is finishing school this semester he will only be home to help put them to bed 3 or 4 nights a week. We both wanted to find a way to make a bed time more of a "daddy event" on those nights, and I think we found our answer.



Ender has become quite the master on his bike now. He's riding easily in the living room (it's the only place he can ride because of this strange snow, so we moved all the furniture against the wall for awhile) and navigating turns and stopping with ease. I think he might decide he's ready to go without training wheels this summer. He already asked Daddy if it's easy to take the training wheels off . . .



To keep up our date night during this school thing Superman and I have been making Saturday nights into a movie night. We start off with something to watch with the boys (their choice has been almost exclusively SuperWhy lately- thank goodness it's a free stream on netflix!) and then after the boys are in bed, we have a bit of wine and a movie of our own. It's been nice to catch up on the movies we haven't seen since the boys were born.

2009 In Books

A book meme snagged from Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things:


What was the best new (to you) author you discovered this year?

Kate DiCamillo- The Tale of Desperaux.

What was your favorite new (to you) series?

As much as I hate to admit it, the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. It isn't very well written and some place are groan-worthy, but it's a compelling storyline. After I finished the first book I couldn't stop thinking about it and felt like I had to get my hands on the second book immediately.


Book that made you cry?

I don't really cry with books or movies, but the one that stayed with me in a very serious way was One Second After by William L. Forstchen. I had dreams about that book for a few weeks after.


Book that made you laugh out loud?

Cape Storm by Rachel Caine. Over all it's definitely a dramatic urban fanasy, but taht girl writes some VERY witty stuff.


Book that totally changed your perspective on something?

Real Food by Nina Planck. Totally changed our diet.


Best homeschooling book?

This one snuck in on the last day of the year, but I have to go with The 3 R's by Dr. Ruth Beechick. This is totally the direction for us.


Worst book that you managed to finish?

Wideacre by Philippa Gregory. Not a single bit of redeeming value in this book. I actually threw it away after I finished it because I couldn't stand the thought of donating it. Thank goodness I only paid 50 cents for it at a garage sale.


Most disappointing Book?

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. It never really went anywhere, the characters were flat and the motivations fell short. I really wanted to like that book too.


Best book-that-was-better-than-the-movie? 

The only things I've read this year that are also movies are the 6th Harry Potter book, The Tale of Desperaux and Twilight. The Twilight movie was really bad, like you could only follow it if you'd read the book.


Most over-hyped book of the year?

The Jennifer Weiner book I mentioned above, Best Friends Forever.


Best feel-good book of the year?

The Little House books. I read all of them this year, and I'd forgotten how enjoyable they are.



Best young adult book of the year?

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson.


Book you’ve been meaning to read for years and finally got to?

I know this is a weird choice, but Storm Front by Jim Butcher. He's a decently big name is SF and he's also a local author that I've been meaning to try for about 3 years. Finally got to it and the first in the series was a good read.

Read aloud that the family enjoyed the most?

My Father's Dragon. Ender is ready to read it again. :)


Best non-fiction?

This is when I wish I kept track of the non-fiction I've read! The first thing that pops into my mind is The Power of Play by David Elkind.


Best religion/theology/doctrine/philosophy?

This Momentary Marriage by John Piper.


All-around best story of the year?

Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey. It's the second in Imriel's series, but I was sooooo sad when I finished that book!

Book that you feel is so integral to your library, you’d even pay full price for it?

The book I've pulled out the very most often this year is Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean by Linda Cobb. Ha ha ha! I've had to take crayon off of walls, ketchup out of beige carpet, and gum out of a shirt, and that's just the stuff I remember.

Be sure to share in comments if you decide to write your own 2009 book list!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From My Husband


"How old are you?" he asks me.


"What do you mean?" I ask.


"I can't decide if you're a 15-year-old boy or and 80-year-old woman."


I may have been knitting and playing World of Warcraft at the same time . . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First January Daybook

Outside my window… even more snow. It was really hard to get places this past weekend, but with the wedding there wasn’t really much of a choice. We took our time and made it to all the important places.

I am thinking… about being back to work this week. I’m trying to remember that this is just a stage of life, that soon I will be able to work less and be with my family more, make dinner every night of the week, create more art, play music for myself rather than for teaching related reasons . . .

I am thankful for… my family, but in particular my siblings. Everyone came together for our sister K.’s wedding and in spite of the rushed circumstances everyone was there to hold her up and show their love for her, her new husband and their soon-to-arrive son.

Always Learning… I’m loving the Ruth Beechick book I received last week! I’ve already been through it once, and now I’m reading it through again. THIS is the book I’ve needed to read to make me feel more prepared for our first year of homeschooling, and confirms a lot of the feelings that I was having about a lot of curriculums asking for too much in a Kindergartener. I’m feeling more and more confident as I read.

From the kitchen… LOTS of soup. Best way to keep warm I think.

I am wearing… Jeans, a camisole, black long-sleeved tee, and a red t-shirt on top. Two pairs of socks. I’m considering adding a hoodie.

I am creating… space. I spent free time over my Christmas break de-cluttering toys in the boys’ rooms and cleaning out closets. I earned my sewing table back from the piles that had grown in November and December.

I am going… to stay home as much as possible this week. We all just need time at home after the wedding craziness last week for some quiet and normalcy. Plus it’s WAY too cold to try to venture out!

I am reading… The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman, and The 3 R’s by Ruth Beechick.

I am hoping… that Superman starts getting calls on some of the resumes he has been submitting.

I am hearing… Vivaldi- the Four Seasons.

Around the house… The Christmas tree is down, along with the nativity. My plans for January include finishing up the closet re-organization I started over the holiday break.

One of my favorite things… left-over treats from New Year’s Eve. They are all the things we never buy that we are snacking on for just one more week . . .

A few plans for the rest of the week … getting back to a routine, starting with regular bedtimes- Mama included!

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Goals

I wrote goals for myself last year and that list gave me much need focus for the year. I thought I'd do it again this year- please feel free to weigh in on my goals or link to your own in the comments!

2010 Goals 

1. BE PRESENT. This is my theme for the year. We have a lot going on in our family right now while Brian is finishing school, and it is very easy for me to spend all my time multi-tasking. I find my mind always half on what is going on around me and half on the things that need to be accomplished elsewhere. I am working very hard to be present with the people I love and saving the worry for later. One of the ways I'm trying to do this is to make a list for myself of when I will do things (work related tasks, house keeping, etc.) so that when those "I should be doing xyz" thoughts start popping up I can dismiss them easily because I've already planned a separate time to accomplish those tasks. Cleaning can wait. My children will not be this age forever.

2. Commit to Daily Scripture. I've been reading and re-reading posts by Ann Voskamp about the way Scripture is a part of the daily life of the family, and praying about ways to make changes in our own family concerning Scripture. I grew up in a practicing Christian home. Both of my parents became believers in high school and are the only believers in their families to this day. My husband came to Christ as an adult, so he doesn't know all of the Bible stories I learned as a child and the practice of daily Scripture reading and prayer is still not completely habit. One of the goals we share for this year is daily Scripture reading and prayer with the boys, developing this to be a habit for our family so that our boys grow up to know that Word is meant to be read, prayed and processed daily. It is a habit I learned early on, and one that Brian is still developing. My own personal goal to go along with our family goal is to commit to Scripture memory this year. I'm still working out specific plans (whether it's to memorize a whole book or separate verses I haven't quite decided yet) and I'll let you know when I settle on something.

3. Track the non-fiction I read this year. I read a very large amount of non-fic each year and I'm curious to know just how much. We'll just say that I check out an average of 100 books per month at our local library, and about 30 of those are for the boys. The rest are for me, with the occasional audio book for Brian to listen to while he drives for work.

4. Raise my fiction goal to 24 fiction books this year, 2 per month. I read more fiction in 2009 than I read in all of 2006, 2007, and 2008 combined. I chalk that fiction deficit up to having two babies! Non-fic was a ton easier to pick up and put down, plus I went on a parenting/mothering book craze for about 2 years.

5. Plan time to re-charge during the week, especially January-May while Brian is finishing school. Brian will be in class 2 nights per week this semester, and will have 2 online classes as well. Because he's taking an overload he will have to be even more diligent about his study time, which means that I will have a good amount of free time on my hands. I need to be sure to use at least some of that time to do things that bring me energy and refreshment so that on the nights he is home I will have energy and attention for him.

6. Keep up with great eating habits. Last year we worked really hard at changing our eating habits, and implented a few things that helped tremendously- we now buy and eat seasonally for our fresh ingredients, and we do not purchase items that are not good for us. No junk food in the house means no "surprise" midnight eating. We also did away with a lot of pre-prepared foods, which also saves us quite a lot on our food budget. Brian has lost and kept off the weight he wanted to take care of, and I feel a million times better these days. I want to continue the things we learned last year, but also to take it into the new year with a few improvements. I need to keep up consistently on meal planning and because of our odd dinner time schedule I need to make more use of my crockpots to provide healthy meals on the nights I have to work through the dinner hour.

7. Keep/Toss/Donate 15 items per day for 30 days. I did this challenge last year in January/February and it felt like a gigantic breath of fresh air for our house. I'm doing it again, thinking of specific places- the hall coat closet, the linen closet, the boys' toys . . . the house certainly feels full again and we need to find white space.

8. Move systematically through the house to declutter. I'm working through this again this year, because it really helped to devote one month to each room of the house so that by the time November hit I didn't have to do any mad dash holiday cleaning. I got a lot done by working just a little bit each day- I think that is the system that just works best for me.

9. Improve my crafting skills. I'm ready to learn some new skills this year!

Learn to do cables.
Knitting Goals:

Learn to do color work.

Attempt lacework.

Sewing Goals:  

Get going on the hexagon quilt I've been thinking about for 6 months!

Branch out into some harder patterns for myself. I have my eye on a certain dress.

Become more confident in the skills I already have instead of holding myself back.

Make the boys' Easter shirts and ties for this year. Superman's tie too. :)

Cut into some of the "special" material I've been hoarding!

10. Re-evaluate my goals every 3 months to stay on task. These goals are not set in stone; if something isn't working I reserve the right to make a change! I tried to set goals that I have control over, considering whether or not they are actually possible and if they serve our family or myself well. Checking in and an occasional re-evaluation is definitely necessary for me.
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