Birthday Revelations

  1. I might not be a “yes” parent, but I am a strong “maybe.” Being open and embracing new phases helps me see my children as individuals. Perfection is hard to relate to. I pick realistic role models and that’s also the kind of mother and friend I want to be.
  2. I love a good plan and a list of tasks. It soothes me to write it out, even if I lose or abandon it.
  3. Exercising feels good. When I trained for the half marathon, I got to a place where running quieted my mind. I am back to being out of breath, so I would like to get to that place again.
  4. Keeping a gratitude list is an awesome way to keep my mind focused on positivity. Sometimes it’s just in my head, sometimes in a journal, but always it gives me peace.
  5. I need a creative outlet. I love knitting, escaping in books, and sketching out plans on how to achieve different goals (and just permission to let my mind wander for an hour works just as well).

Another year, another list (it feels so good to write it out, try it!!!)

❤️

On the needles currently:

Entrechat Shrug

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Summer Planning

My kids have 10 weeks of summer. When they aren’t at camps or family vacations, they roughly spend the first half of the day with me, then the second half of the day with my mother. They usually do quiet, crafty activities while I work in the mornings, then she takes them to the pool and other fun places in the afternoon.

During the school year, every family member has chores and routines that keep us all accountable and the household running moderately smooth. I like to have a plan going into each summer week as well. The plan is loose, but it’s enough stability to provide boundaries.

So along with some chores, we go to the library each week and I ask them to write in a journal at least once a week. I also give myself a weekly theme and try to come up with some craft ideas, some book ideas that I reserve at the library in advance, a field trip idea, and throw in some recipes that we want to try. It’s loose, but with a little structure.

Here’s some of the weekly themes we are kicking around: Yarn, Kindness, Jewelry, Painting, Sculpture, Paper, Patriotic, Wildflower, Beach, and Water. My goal this summer is to encourage their creativity (and try not to go insane with the messes that are made).

Do you also purposely change the household pace in the summer?

❤️

April Reading

I had trouble getting into reading this month. My brain has been going in a million directions and I am having trouble concentrating. Here’s the short list:

Blue Plate Special by Kate Christenson

I usually love memoirs laced with recipes (Molly Wizenberg, Gabrielle Hamilton, Julie Powell, Barbara Kingsolver, David Lebovitz my favorites) but this one didn’t cut the mustard for me. I stuck with it, but it was meandering and a bit boring at times. The only thing I was inspired to make when I finished it was a bean burrito. Whomp, whomp, whomp.

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I really, really value the minimalist concept. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around taking it to this level. For now, I’ll just continue to use as little paper towels and prepackaged snacks as my young family will allow, and recycle what I can.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

I listened to the audio version of this book. I loved Where’d you go Bernadette– honestly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. And this one was great, but not as great because she set the bar too high. Timby’s voice was also really, really whiney when you sped up the audio. It probably says something about my life that it took me 15 minutes to even remember that I listened to the audio version, or if I made the child’s voice whiney in my own head.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, The Beatles, and The World in 1967 by Brian Southall

I enjoyed this, and it provided great entertainment to get me out of the house to exercise this month. I wish they could have played more of the music in the audio version, and I wish Brian had more background secrets about Beatles dynamics. This is the music of my childhood, as my dad is a big Beatles fan. I loved talking to him about this book, but it wasn’t anything he didn’t already know. Because of that fact, it is probably for the light rock history lover more so, than someone who lived through it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book saved April. Sounds dramatic, but I have a feeling this will rank in the top 5 of my best books of 2018. It was funny, and sad, and uplifting and such a worthwhile read. It grabbed me from the beginning, introducing me to a single woman named Eleanor and her daily routines, her quirkiness pulling you in like a character on The Office. While the tone is mostly light and hopeful, darkness seeps in as you read about her scars, the hint of a possible violent past, and her mother’s dark influence in her life. Eleanor’s life and heart is opened by an unlikely cast of characters, and she must journey through the past with them to welcome the future.

That brings me to 27, which isn’t going to help me get to my goal of 100 books this year unless I pick up the pace!

Did you grab a copy of Bookpage at your library this month? My holds list has been refreshed and amazon is sending me Amateur Hour by Kimberly Harrington as an early Mother’s Day gift. Where do you go for book recommendations? I’d love to find more sources!

❤️

 

Food Mood Shifters

Fill in the Blank: It is impossible to be sad/anxious/angry when eating _______.

Emotional eating has always been my diet downfall. If I had to make a list of my top 5 yummy, feel good treats it would be: jelly beans, cream cheese pastry, toast with blackberry jelly, cherry cola, and coffee ice cream. Sugar is my very obvious crutch.

Not sure how I can flip this without giving up sugar, which would be very near impossible. So yeah, portion control? Use as small rewards for doing things that I should (like exercise and lots of water?).

No plan of action just yet. So for now, you guys can just drool with me over this very delicious toast.

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Buttered Toast with Blackberry Jelly

What are your food mood shifters?

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Feelings

Anger, Frustration, Hopelessness, Sadness, Fear, or Joy?

Share your feelings with someone today. Listen to someone today. Empathize today. And try again tomorrow. Teach your children to do this by modeling love.

❤️

January Reading

I hit my reading goal this month, easily! I know there are many January-haters out there, and as much as I do not enjoy freezing temps, I love how much I can accomplish this month!

Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
Fourth in the Outlander series, this is set primarily in America before the American Revolution. Like the other Outlander books I’ve read, this installation in the series is exquisite in detail, romance and daring. And like the others, I always proclaim the last one I read to be the “best”. It’s just long, so carve out some time.

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes
Let me preface this by saying I am a big fan of Jojo Moyes. But this one was slow. So slow in fact I had both the audio and digital version of this last fall, and never got past the first two chapters. But I persisted and borrowed a library copy and ended up loving it in the end. It is romantic in a realistic, modern way. Driving the story is Sarah, an orphaned teen, and her survival story.

Perfect Plates, John Waite
This is a perfect gift for a cookbook lover. The recipes are well-photographed and mostly simple, with known ingredients, yet he pulls together some very unique combinations. The Banana and Blueberry Dutch Baby Pancake is the perfect Saturday morning breakfast, and I’m bringing the Rye Soda Bread with Egg Butter to my next lunch meeting.

Gem & Dixie, Sara Zarr
This young adult selection certainly pulled at my heart. Gem & Dixie are neglected teens with a complicated family system. Both the mother and father do their fair share of loving these girls but yet they continually manipulate them for their own selfish gain due to their own flaws and addictions. My heart breaks for any adolescent that is robbed of the chance of adolescence. Her characterization and dialogue of the teens seem near perfect, and the book highlights the importance of the school support system in a vulnerable teen’s life (all the way from teachers, counselors, to even school cafeteria workers).

All Grown Up, Jamie Attenburg
Someone recommended this one as being funny. I don’t think funny would describe it well. It was ironically humorous at times, but I mostly found it depressive and narcissistic. The character’s lack of identity and struggle to find passion and purpose was insightful, but definitely not funny.

And we’re off?, Dana Schwartz
The premise of this story is a teen artist is offered the opportunity to study abroad, but the mother decides to tag along at the last minute. This one is funny and a bit nightmarish, at least from the teenager’s perspective. She gets an opportunity of a lifetime for some self-discovery, and her broken mother decides to both physically and mentally anchor her. The mother seems less like a helicopter mom, and more just discouraging, pathetic and lost.

Pioneer Woman Cooks, Come and Get It!, Ree Drummond
These really are normal, delicious recipes for a busy life. The Overnight Muesli is easy and delicious, and the Sheet Pan Tofu and Grilled Cheese & Veggie are my new favorite lunch favorites. I’ve never made salmon before, but my daughter and I are going to try to cook the Honey Soy Salmon together the next opportunity. Not all of the recipes are perfectly healthy, but in this cookbook Ree makes healthy also look easy and tempting, a considerable feat.

Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman
Rules of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic (which I haven’t read or seen the movie, but I’m reading it next). I will be the millionth person to echo that you don’t have to read Practical Magic before reading this one, and it’s such a beauty that it can stand alone if you wish not to read how the family progresses, as hard as it might be to try. It’s the Owens sisters backstory set in 1950’s New England, and it’s masterful storytelling, capturing both the spirit of the time and the fantasy of magic. I’ve heard the audio version is outstanding, although I only had a library copy and was blown away. I loved it, and would put this on any must-read list.

A Letter to my Congregation, 2nd Edition, Ken Wilson
I believe that most Christians would agree that a defining issue for this generation of believers is the church’s path forward through embracing or excluding people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Whether you agree or disagree with the author’s conclusions, I found it was a worthy journey. I was especially moved by his discernment process of prayer, counseling and research, and the afterword he wrote for the second edition, a true “what happened next.” His generosity of spirit and openness touched me. He wrote, “I can appreciate anyone disagreeing [with] me because I have lived long enough to disagree with myself.” I hope I can approach my calling with such humility.

Have you read anything wonderful that you would recommend?

❤️

What’s Working

Whether at church or with my neighborhood friends, something that I’m always keen to talk about is best practices- best mom practices especially. While everyone has different kids and different circumstances, there are always commonalities shared that sparks inspiration for me. Why reinvent the wheel?
Sometimes you’ll find a mom with some kids that are about 5 years ahead of you, and her mom best practices are truly little golden nuggets. And other times, you can help a mom with younger children find the perfect sippy cup, share your perfect bedtime routine, or just in general gain some perspective and appreciate that not every phase lasts forever.
Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint, and just like a running buddy will help encourage you to finish the race- your mom tribe will also!

These are the top 5 things that are working for me right now:

  1. Getting up earlier than my kids. It sounds so simple, but in that 30 mins or hour, I can take a long walk, enjoy some coffee and devotional time, and be ready to give my kids attention to get them to school on time and start my day more peacefully.
  2. Using a bullet journal to write down my goals and create action steps to complete them. I journal my weekly progress, as well as success/fails of the week. I love making lists, so this works well for how my brain works, but it also lets me see big picture progress which helps me in turn be more realistic.
  3. The Think Dirty app is helping me to be choose greener beauty and household products. For many years now, I’ve tried to keep a greener home, both for my family’s health and to be a better steward of our world’s resources. I use many of the Norwex cleaning cloths and my laundry routine is probably as green as I can make it, but my makeup and beauty products need an overhaul. My current rating on the app is a 6. This app helps me identify my biggest offenders (my mascara, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, & body wash) so that when it comes time to replace them, I can make a better choice.
  4. Choosing to unsubscribe from so many retail e-blasts. With budgeting continuing to be a top priority for our family, I have found it easier to spend less by unsubscribing from so many eblasts that prompted that “oh, I need that” reaction.
  5. Activating the “move” function of my Garmin. I don’t want to be bossed around by my watch, but I work a 9-5 office job and sitting all day long is deadly. Keeping water at my desk helps too, then I’m forced by my bladder to move, haha. You could set an alarm on your phone too. Thankfully I work from home, so that I can dance to Timberlake for a few minutes in the privacy of my own office.

I would love to hear what is working for you too! Let’s lift each other up so that this motherhood journey is a little easier!

❤️