Friday, May 27, 2016

Everyday Life 5.27.16:

It's a sleepy day.  Business is crazy for Joe right now and he's working a lot of hours, the effects of which filter down to the rest of us and make it feel just a bit extra busy all around.  It's good; his job is seasonal so an intense summer is normal.  It's just a little crazy while it lasts.  (And this summer so far is quite beyond the usual craziness)

Joe and I did get to go on a date yesterday afternoon.  It was lovely to get out.  After dinner we walked around the lake in the rain.  The combination of rain, clouds and water have wonderful memories for us: roaming the streets of Camden, ME on a rainy fall day.  Freezing but loving it on board the schooner Angelique.  Our little cottage vacations on Lake Huron.  We absolutely love to be near water and are hoping to sail again this summer (Joe has a little sailboat, Alberta, that he built several years ago and some of our favorite friendship-building, pre-dating memories are centered around it).

(This is a journal entry post.  Since I don't have anything big to say, I'm writing for myself, for the future.  I want to look back and remember what life is like today.  You all are more than welcome to listen in.)

Did you know that Daddy Long Legs (the 1912 book by Jean Webster) has been made into a musical???  The recording is available on Apple Music and I have really enjoyed listening to it.  It's small; only two actors and three musicians (piano, guitar, cello).  Sounds like they stayed quite true to the story.  I'd love to see it if it ever comes to Denver.  In the meantime, I've added it to my Musicals playlist, created especially for listening to while cleaning.

I'm trying to optimize my time to accomplish a bit more this summer.  I switched almost all of my cleaning over to Mondays and I think that's going to help; it's easier to just clean for a couple of hours and get it all done than to try to do a task or two every day.  Hopefully that will leave an afternoon or two a week for other work.  I would love to work through our photos and get either albums or a few photo books made. We have lots of printed photos so I'd like to go through, organize them and see about scrapbooking them or putting them in albums.  I've never been the scrapbooking sort ( but it's quite a bit less expensive than doing lots of photo books and we already have a lot of pics printed.  I'm thinking some kind of super-minimalist scrapbook?  Black or neutral pages, minimal decoration and captioning?  Ideas, anyone?

~ ~ ~ 

Emily: we call her Emmy-Bear, or as James said the other night, "Night-night, Ummy-Burr!"  She cut her first tooth today!  She's almost 11 months.  James was 11 months when he cut his first tooth, so I guess our kids are late teethers.  I don't mind that at all.  :)  She hasn't been fussy and for that I am grateful.  She also rolled over in bed of her own accord!  She's been content to just stay on her back and push around with her feet a bit, so we've been working on rolling.  Guess she figured out that it's a viable transportation option.  Speaking of Emily, I just can't get enough of this picture.  Sarah did a photoshoot of the kids in their wedding outfits the other day and this is probably my all-time favorite photo that we have of Emily.

James.  Such a little man.  Talking more and more, sometimes in words and sometimes in his personal language (sounds like gibberish with a lot of D's and G's, and he tends to use it when he's "talking on the phone").  He likes everything in its place and is good at knowing where stuff goes: shoes on the dryer.  Coat hanging in the laundry room.  Today he picked up a shoe off the floor and tossed it into the coat closet.  Lately he's been helping me to bring in the groceries when I shop; helpful for me and he loves it.  

I got an ice cream maker for Mother's Day.  So fun to experiment with flavors!  I have so many that I want to try.  So far this sweet cream recipe is a favorite.  I also made Earl Grey biscotti from this recipe.  My family loves them; I personally think they're fine but could be improved, possibly by using a different base recipe.

Well, the littles are waking up (Emily is, at any rate; James is a sound sleeper this time of day) so I'd best be off.  Later!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Everyday Life 5.20.16

Good morning!  I'm writing this (starting it at least) in my moments of morning quiet.  I've started getting up before the kids do in order to have time for devotions, the occasional workout and just generally getting myself in order before the day.  I'm loving it; usually it's worth more to me now than the extra sleep.  Quiet is a wonderful thing.


I am reading a fascinating book on habits right now: Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I'm loving it and it's inspired me to think through my day, intentionally working on routines and habits.  Things like taking vitamins every day.  How I plan my housework during the week.  Practice or reading vs. social media or Internet.  It's kind of like spatial awareness for time: knowing what needs to happen, what I want to happen, what I'm actually doing.  It has been so good.  I am about two-thirds of the way through the book and I highly recommend it.  One of my biggest take-aways so far is that we have only a limited amount of self-control and decision-making power, and that forming a habit of something pre-makes the decision for you, freeing up more mental space for other things.

One of the most important things that I'm working on now is re-incorporating piano practice into my day.  Music is a huge part of who I am, and it puzzles me sometimes that I don't make a higher priority of it.  It helps me emotionally, it's good for the kids to hear me play, and I don't want to wake up in 10 years and realize that I haven't kept up one of my most important gifts.  I am trying to practice in the mornings (another point from Better than Before: if it's important, schedule it in the morning) after walking and showering.  I'm working on technique, as always.  I love technique: listening, working, getting full control of my fingers.  I haven't learned much in the way of new music since our marriage, but I'm starting the Lecuona Malaguena just for fun (because Spanish!  Drama!  All The Noise!).  Also working up one of the first Brahms pieces I ever learned: Intermezzo in A major.  It's amazing to me how much memory is locked away in a piece of music.  My piano books are a storehouse of memories.

singing like daddy

   ~ ~ ~

One of the odd parts about being a mom is that there are so many different seasons that follow each other in rapid succession.  Early pregnancy (on and off the couch: bare minimum accomplished, unless you count reading).  Later pregnancy (a little more normal but cleaning the bathrooms still feels like a full day's work).  Postpartum (who is the beautiful little person, and who am I anyway?).  Settling back into regular life with another child (how to organize my time? my home? my children?). And then the kids get older and keep changing too...  I'm realizing that I need to live well in my current season, while accepting and even planning for the fact that it will change.  I want to streamline the necessary parts of life, leaving us with more time for the truly important and beautiful.

hitchhiking a ride with baby sister

just too cute

One of our every-day routines right now (weather permitting) is going out for a walk right after breakfast.  Our condo gets very little sunlight and I've realized it's important for my well-being as well as for the kids for us to get out regularly.  Lately we've been stopping at the park; Emily loves to swing and James loves the slides ("a tum too, Mummy?").  He wants to walk home, which is fun and exploratory and quite snail-paced.   How far he actually gets to walk depends up on the current time in relation to Emily's naptime.


Emily is getting cuter and cuter.  I love how alive she is.  She's started creeping along on her back: planting her little heels and pushing herself backwards towards whatever she's after.  It's hilarious.  We put her in the little red car at my parents' recently and she was thrilled.  She can actually drive herself....backwards.  


Funny moment from the park today:

Little Boy to me: "You're a teenager!"
Me: "Well, actually I'm the mom."
Little Boy: "Well, you LOOK like a teenager!"

Do I?  I guess sunglasses help....

All for now!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Reviews | Part One

Hello!  I’m back with those book reviews.  When I listed the best books I’ve read so far this year, it was to my surprise that most of the list was non-fiction (since I read far more fiction).  There were also too many to fit all of the reviews into one post, so this will be part one of two.  For now, the non-fiction:  

Not a particularly light read, though it’s accessible and very important.  This book covers the convergence of child abuse and the church thoroughly and honestly.  Reju touches on our great responsibility to protect our children, the problem of trusting and laid-back churches and those who would exploit that tendency, habits of predators, and ways to practically protect our children and to care for those who have been hurt.  Good balance of grace and hope with awareness of the realities of the world we live in.  Every parent, church leader, and children's worker should read this book.

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn

We’ve all heard the pessimistic modern analysis of marriage, right?  50% of marriages end in divorce, the divorce rate within the church is the same as the divorce rate outside, etc., etc.  It’s depressing and it can leave couples feeling that marriage isn’t worth it, or that perhaps they’re just in the doomed half and there’s no hope for a happy marriage for them.  When Shaunti Feldhahn tried to find the actual statistics, though, she couldn’t do it...because they don’t exist.  This is a fascinating read, with lots of (easily accessible) statistics and explanations of how those numbers came to be accepted and what the research actually indicates.  Did you know that the actual divorce rate is closer to 30%?  And that most people who are married would still choose their spouse?  A quick and encouraging read.  Highly recommended.

I devoured this book.  It had been a long time since I’d read history or biography and I loved this collection of short biographies of influential Christian women (Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Sister Maria, and Mother Theresa), most of whom I knew little about.  It’s inspiring to encounter strong, feminine Christian women throughout history and to see their great differences, their similarities, and how they were used of God.  These obviously aren’t exhaustive bios but they make a great introduction and starting point for more research.  (I’m now partway through a longer biography of Hannah More.)

Re-living The Passion by Walter Wangerin.

For some time I have been curious about the traditional church year’s season of Lent.  It makes so much sense to me to have a time dedicated to pondering Christ’s work and preparing our souls to celebrate Easter, which otherwise tends to fly past without my giving it much notice.  This 40-day Lenton devotional goes slowly through the Passion as told by Mark, often narrating from the point of view of one of the characters in the story.  I loved it and will certainly be using it again.  (If you want a shorter Easter devotional, check out Love to the Uttermost from Desiring God.)  

To be honest, when I first saw the title I was a little leery.  This look at Biblical forgiveness and restoration was excellent, though.  I hadn’t realized that the well-known saying “forgive and forget”--and by implication move on as if nothing happened--is actually not a true representation of Biblical forgiveness per Matthew 18.   Kay points out that in the case of actual serious sin (her example was her husband’s long-term internet porn addiction), “forgive and forget” doesn’t bring restoration and can easily end up enabling the sinner rather than bringing them to repentance.  Gave me some great food for thought and helped my understanding of Biblical forgiveness, reconciliation and confrontation.  (Kay Bruner’s autobiography As Soon As I Fell is also good.)   

My currently-reading pile

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Everyday Life 5.7.16

Well, I had every intention of pulling together a post of book reviews this week but it's going to take more time than I have available; I'm a day late as it is.  A few pictures and thoughts instead, perhaps?  And I'll be working on those book reviews.

Grandma was in town for the wedding and just left yesterday.  I always enjoy getting to spend time with her; she's one amazing woman.  Before she left we got a four-generations picture.  It's so amazing to think of the legacy of strong, wonderful women that Emily has (and not just on my side, but on Joe's as well).  Equally amazing to think of our maiden names and all that they symbolize: Caroselli.  Fielhauer.  Morgan.  Langemann.  There are such memories contained in those names.  I am so grateful for the stories and the heritage that I've been given.

This boy celebrated his half-birthday on Tuesday: two and a half!  He's growing up so much.  He sings, talks on the phone, tells me stories, still loves his garages and trucks and fire engines.  The slides at the park are a favorite.  His latest occupation is to get out all the brooms and either ask me to sweep with him ("mommy broom?") or "vacuum" the floor with them, often using the wrong end. I'm relieved that he is starting to use a lower-pitched tone for his vacuum imitation.

We celebrated 10 months of Emily on Monday.  What a little character she is.  She's still not interested in normal modes of locomotion such as crawling, but she's learning to scoot herself around on her tummy or her seat.  And she races all over in the walker.  She's going to talk early, I think.  She just started dropping things (intentionally) and looking up with brows furrowed: "Uh-uh!"  Emily looooves her daddy and just about jumps out of her skin with delight when he gets home from work.  Watching them dance together melts my heart.  She's been getting a lot more interactive with her dolls, talking to them and playing with them.

I've been doing a lot more crocheting lately, preparing gifts for various friends and family.  It's nice to put in a movie during naptime and work away.  The above is what happens when I'm halfway through one project and decide that I really need to use that yarn for another posthaste: working from both ends of the skein at ones.  Slightly awkward but certainly workable.  I'll have to post pictures of some of my projects, once the designated recipients have them in hand.  

Speaking of movies--I just watched the 2007 Persuasion.  I've seen the old one (1995?) a couple of times but hadn't experienced the new yet.  I was favorably impressed!  Though I think that's because my expectations, set by various reviews I'd read, were quite low.  Acting was good; Wentworth and Sir Walter stood out especially.  Costuming overall good (though why were Anne's so very different than her family's in quality?), locations lovely.  The pacing though...ugh.   I felt like the writers, who so far had done well with accuracy, suddenly had to wrap it up posthaste.  Cramming the last quarter to third of the book into one last mad run through Bath (in which one meets all the right people at all the right times!) just doesn't quite cut it for me.  The iconic drawing room/letter writing scene, which was left out entirely (though the substance thereof was distributed throughout the movie) is much more...subdued, to be sure, but deeply heartfelt and subtly romantic.  

Anna came over yesterday and watched Anne of Green Gables with me while the littles slept.  Sister time is always good and it's treasured even more now that we're all growing up and getting jobs and husbands and kids and things like that.  We drank tea and ate lots of biscotti...I think there were only two left on this plate by the time we were done.  Left to right: chocolate espresso, almond with chocolate drizzle, anise dipped in chocolate.  I just went to town with the chocolate while I had some melted.  It's great on the almond ones, but the anise are so delicately flavored that the chocolate kind of overpowers them.  Maybe not quite everything is better dipped in chocolate.  

I'm going to wrap this up.  It's been a long though good and productive day.  My sweet man is finishing the dishes while I finish here and the kids are already in bed...time to brew some tea and do something relaxing.  Cheers!


Joe and I on a date at the lake this week