Summer Reading Plan

With the school year ending, I’m not going to lie- I am very excited to see the end of the reading log for the kiddos. We love to read! However, the requirement to log in a certain amount of time a day truly steals the joy.

So this summer, the reading plan is very loose. I am taking them to the library on Fridays, to let them pick anything they want. They have their own library card, and I let them usually choose 5-10 books. And together (bedtimes and car trips mainly) we will try to read a few chapter books.

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These are some of the ones I’m looking forward to sharing this summer:

The Boxcar Children

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Red, White, and Blue

Hattie & Hudson (not chapters but so beautiful)

Bellyache

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And for me-

The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a dark, dark wood, in thriller preparation for The Lying Game (coming out July 25!)

More of the Outlander series

Pure, White, and Deadly 

Always and forever, Lara Jean 

Echo

And some other new releases that I heard about on Bookpage: How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays and Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel

Do you like to make a plan for yourself and your kiddos?

Using the Stash

With the minimalist challenge that I’m doing this May, my mind has been more focused on what I can get rid of versus what I need. I am a process knitter (that’s code for I start many projects and never finish). And I love to peruse Ravelry and my favorite knitting blogs like MDK, so it’s truly an active challenge to not want to order more yarn and start more new projects.

Yarn was scheduled for Day 9, and I knew that in order to donate 9 skeins of yarn (to my daughter’s classroom, btw) I would have to first get an overview of what I had, then make a list of possible projects I could make with what I had, and THEN decide what was truly worth destashing.

I frogged so many projects (Aspen, several scarves and shawls, a Tea Leaves Cardi, to name a few). It felt so great! And in the end, her classroom will receive a colorful bundle to play with at her end-of-year class party coming up.

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Of course, with such a public destashing, the onlooker quotient was not factored in. I have now on the needles a purple feather & fan church shawl for my youngest daughter. (SO SQUISHY, MOM, CAN YOU KNIT SOMETHING FOR ME? I’m a sucker for that, you know.)

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Reading Phases

I don’t know if this is common with others, but I go through reading phases. My interest will go heavily into nonfiction, fiction, biographies, magazines, cookbooks, or juvenile novels, for several months. Because I am actually recording what I read these days, there’s a certain effort into spreading it out. But what happens now, instead of enjoying that rabbit hole, it results in me just not reading and picking up my knitting or focusing on running, if I can’t get into what I’m telling myself I should be reading (instead of what I want to be reading). Which is a long way of saying, I haven’t been reading very much.

But I did pick up two excellent cookbooks that were new on my library’s shelves this past month (and disheartenedly, they are due tomorrow and reserved, so there’s no option of renewing).

Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre

Nourishing Meals was excellent, and would be a top notch resource if your meal planning involves sidestepping gluten, dairy and soy. You should have seen how many recipes I sticky-noted along the way! I made the grapefruit and radish salad a few weeks ago, and have so many more plans to incorporate these recipes into my daily routine. There’s practical advice on lunch planning, creating balanced family meals, and incorporating smart snacking into your diet.

Run Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalene Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

I heard about Run Fast. Eat Slow. on the podcast, Another Mother Runner. The half marathon training was in full swing, and I was struggling with the energy to get out the door for the longer runs and trying to figure out what to eat (& when) to maximize my energy levels while also being realistic about balancing my busy work & kid schedule. With the help of this book, I roasted beets for smoothies, garlic and sweet potatoes, and batch cooked whole grains. This book was endorsed by some pretty impressive athletes- Joan Benoit Samuelson, Meb Keflezighi and Allyson Felix. I want to be running in ten or twenty years, and it is conclusive that getting nourishment from whole foods is the key to long-term success.

If you are into the whole foods movement or need help avoiding certain allergens, both of these books would be recommended.

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Minimalism

Minimalism is so buzzy these days, from instagram to several of the blogs I follow and books I have been reading. Certainly it’s not a new idea, but it is new to me. New because college and for several years after, I moved around every year or two and I just didn’t have time to collect THE STUFF. But with kids, and staying in the same place now for a bit, I have accumulated so much STUFF. So much that the house that we bought and thought we would never fill, is filled to the brim. That’s where this minimalism game I found comes into play, and I decided to play it this month. So for every day of May, I will give, donate or throw away that day’s date of items (May 1 is 1 item, May 2 is 2 items, etc). I decided to start with a list of where THE STUFF accumulates to give myself a jump start on this culling process.

  1. change jar to the bank
  2. coats
  3. ratty dog toys
  4. old computer equipment
  5. winter gear
  6. playdoh/ junk cabinet
  7. old holiday decor
  8. wrapping paper
  9. yarn
  10. hats
  11. baby blankets
  12. the freezer
  13. junk drawer
  14. socks that don’t have matches
  15. art supplies
  16. kids’ bathroom
  17. cups
  18. books
  19. clothing- me
  20. clothing- my husband
  21. clothing- the kids
  22. toys
  23. office junk
  24. my bathroom cabinet
  25. the hairbow box
  26. grocery store bags
  27. the pantry
  28. more toys
  29. laundry room storage
  30. the garage
  31. the garage (so messy it deserves two days)

It’s so exciting to think I will be almost 500 items lighter as of June 1st! Have you tried anything like this before?

March Reading

It was another quality over quantity month for the reading list this past month.

My favorite was Long Man by Amy Greene, and you can read about it here. It’s everything I want to hear from a local voice.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was another excellent book, almost magical, like a fairy tale. The delicate details of the Alaskan scenery are like Jack and Mabel’s love, not always confident but always complicated and beautiful.

Jack and Mabel are grieving the loss of a pregnancy and hopes of creating the family they want so badly. They move and pour their energy into homesteading in the 1920’s Alaskan wilderness. Faina, the snow child, comes to their homestead fantastically, in a blizzard. She arrives when their relationship is failing, and they are challenged with discerning if she is real or imagined. Jack and Mabel are looking for a new beginning together and Faina provides that foundation, even if it is fractured and slippery.

A brassy and bold neighbor of Mabel says earnestly, “We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?” {Drop the mic, as my daughter would say}

365 Thank yous by John Kralik. It was inspiring and humbling to read his story. He is self-admittedly arrogant and depressed, and hears a voice in the wilderness calling him to be a better version of himself. Through the process of writing a thank you note every day, his outlook changes from grumbly hateful to humbly grateful for the people around him, at work, on the street, and his family. It reminded me of the message of our church retreat, about allowing God to break in to our every day lives. (Perhaps try to put Philippians 4:8 into practice, if you that is something you feel lead to do.)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby was mysterious and fantastical (and maybe a little too mysterious and fantastical for the audio version I was trying to listen to as I ran this past month). It was less confusing once I checked out the actual library copy, but I loved the narration of the audio version. The story moves around a high school boy, who witnesses a crime and wrestles with his role in the crime, as well as discovers love and his identity in the process. (And now that I know the ending, I’d like to reread it; it’s that kind of book.)

What are you reading? Anything inspiring or hard to put down? I’d love to hear!

New Beginnings

Currently:

Intro to Middle School 101- We are feeling left out already and middle school doesn’t start until next year. Our daughter has had multiple briefings and tours of the school, and decisions have had to be made based on information they have given her alone. But Parent Night is finally this week! Which, I assume, is to tell us that we need to butt out. I’m not ready!!

Unicorn sleepover party planning- So in an effort to feel more “in control” we are pouring our energy into planning the best 11th birthday ever. So far, that means the parents will be banished to the bonus room while the 11-year-olds have the run of the place.

Listening to Star Girl, by Jerry Spinelli & narrated by John Ritter. Ah, a comforting voice. Come and knock on my door, friend 🙂

Struggling to reduce sugar, wheat & dairy. It makes me feel so much better! So why do I struggle? Two words- Easter Candy.

Search for the best new kicks for the half marathon. I am currently running in Brooks Adrenaline. I need support, but also love cushioning, and run wider than narrow. (Basically, I’m an elephant.) Thinking about Asics Gel-Cumulus or New Balance 1080. Any recommendations?

Coming off Church Retreat High. We had a lovely weekend in Montreat, North Carolina with our church family, learning to pray and watch for God to “Break In” our every day lives. Our youngest is on such a high, we caught her pretend-play teaching the children’s message to her stuffies, mimicking the youth pastor at the end “Let us go to God in prayer, repeat after me…” So cute!

Cheers to new beginnings!

Essential Oils for Runners

Training for a half marathon has had it’s ups and downs so far…

I love the energy it is giving me and drive to be healthy all day, especially when I start the day with a run. I’m running 3 times a week, and have worked up to 6 miles so far. But my hips, knees, and ankles are taking a beating.

I’m stretching more and going to yoga, and incorporating some strength exercises for cross training to help. Using my collection of Young Living essential oils has also provided some relief.

To help both my lungs and respiratory system, and to prime my muscles and joints before I run, I use this blend from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy:

  • 5 drops Young Living Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Young Living Rosemary
  • 5 drops Young Living Ginger
  • 2 drops Young Living Peppermint

I dilute 3 drops in a quarter size dollop of pure aloe vera gel and rub on my legs and lower back.

After my post-run shower, I use Young Living Cool Azul sports gel on my legs and lower back. It is both invigorating and relaxing when my legs are taxed. (It is packed with 10% pure essential oils per tube!)

And I have to say- stretching helps but I also try not to sit criss-cross-applesauce at my desk chair anymore. It paralyzes my knees after a run! Do you have any advice for managing the beginner runner aches?

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Young Living products are not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or condition.