4.18.2017

Classics Challenge - Anna Karenina

I've been wanting to read a Russian Novel for a couple years now but found them intimidating. Last fall I decided that 2017 was going to be the year I did it! I was just determined - even more so once I found out Russian Classics were their own category.

I did get a bit freaked out when I downloaded it to my kindle and it said expected reading time was around 24 hours. I think I would have preferred not to know that! But once I got started, I was surprised by how easy of a read it was, at least it terms of following the story.  I guess I just expected to be a lot more confused by the names and the plot that I was. No, I didn't understand all the intricacies of the politics and side stuff but I grasped enough to understand the characters and their reactions. And I couldn't pronounce the names but it wasn't too hard to remember for the most part, who was who. There's a lot of characters and relationships between them and they are all fairly complex people but I felt so immersed in the world that I couldn't help but connect to it all. The chapters are short so it made it easy to just read a few at a time. And the storyline jumps around so much that I never got stuck in a section about the ones I didn't like as much for very long which helped me keep going.

But while it was a technically easier read that expected, the ideas aren't. This is the type of book I could easily see a book club coming together to talk about and if everyone gave a brief synopis, you might not even think they were talking about the same book. For me, it was all about Kitty and Levin. In both cases, I liked the characters to begin with (although not always their choices!) and loved experiencing their life and growth through the story. I found Aleksey's thought process fascinating and I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. Anna's sections were actually my least favorite although I was still quite drawn into her story at the end. I stopped many times to think about what I would, or should, do if I were each character and there weren't usually easy answers to that question. Despite being set in a time and place I know very little about, people are people and I felt like this was a fascinating and realistic portrayal of them.

So overall, I loved it! After a bit of research, I had originally wanted to read the Constance Garnett translation and that's what our library's e-book says they have but when you actually got to download it, it's the Pevear (P&V) translation so went with it. This definitely seems like a book I'd love to reread someday so perhaps I'll try that translation next time. I'm pretty sure they'll be a next time - in a decade or two.

Anna Karenina is my Russian Classic selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge over at Books and Chocolate. 

4.13.2017

Spring Update

I don't know why I can't seem to keep up with this old blog thing...maybe it's the three kids and the homeschooling and the 10 chickens, one old cat and 2 crazy pooping guinea pigs. Or something. I don't know. But anyhow, here's a spring update. Maybe there will be another before summer. But no promises.

Buying - A minivan! After a year and a half of smooshing three kids and their massive carseats in a 5 seater SUV, we were able to upgrade. Now I gotta be totally cliche and go to Target and buy some organizational stuff for it. I probably won't be wearing leggings or buying myself a starbucks while I'm there but I might put my hair in a topknot. Can't break the mom mold too much.


Doing - All the nature stuff, all the time. Seriously, it's crazy!  The first of march has us buying a new batch of baby chicks. Baby chicks are so so cute! But then they grow and the cuteness factor decreases while the pooping increases and they needed to go outside. Craig processed the old hens last weekend. It was his first time and I don't think it was a favorite activity of his but he hide it well and managed to sneak in a bit of a science lesson. These are all the eggs he found developing in just one hen! But we cleaned out the empty coop and just this morning moved the babies out there. 


They aren't this cute right now. And they aren't pretty like full grown hens. They are awkward adolescents. Apparently its not just the human species that struggles a bit in the middle. 

Then we found a dead mouse. Well, first it wasn't dead. I found it in the breezeway and calmly relocated it to the backyard. I may have screamed before I calmly carried it out in a net but that's neither here nor there. Then Craig put out traps. Then it was dead. Lucy insists that the one that the trap caught wasn't the same as the cute cute one she saw me take out in the net. I have no opinion on that matter. But we are right at the end of Term 1 of Year 2 of Ambleside Online and what chapters were coming up next in the Burgess Animal Book but the mice chapters so I couldn't say no to a journaling request. We identified it as a Deer Mouse and when I mentioned that mouse was in the next chapter, they insisted I read it right then on a Sunday afternoon. I rarely read ahead in their school books but I made an exception. I was pretty much feeling like a supermom in the nature study department - until Lucy informed me Monday night that Jonah had found the dead mouse again and was carrying it around all afternoon. Supermom nature mom or not, I have limits and they had been reached! 






But even that wasn't the end of nature week! We met up with some friends and searched for a fairly rare flower called the Fremont's Leather Flower. It only grows in a tiny area in our state but with a challenge like that, we had to try. And we found it! And then we ended up on a hike around the glades that none of us was quite prepared for. Over three hours and almost three (up and down, muddy waterfall filled) miles, all three moms and all nine kids made it back to our picnic spot. I may have had to carry Norah in my Boba on my back and a soaking wet Jonah in my arms (he played in the creek) for the last quarter of it, but we made it! My kids insist that even with the ice cream I treated them to afterwards, they never want to do that particular hike again but I think it was worth it. The views were amazing and I'm pretty impressed at what their little (and my older!) body can do. I didn't take any pictures on the hike itself because I left my phone with my bag at the front (because I didn't think we'd be hiking!) but here is the elusive flower. It's more impressive than my photography skills would indicate. 


Lucy draws pretty things too. Like this dogwood. I asked her if she wanted to draw the rare flower we drove out specifically to see. No, she wanted to draw a Dogwood which are pretty much everywhere  here. I am very proud of myself for letting her choose. 

Limping along - The last few weeks of school. Besides the nature studying, we're just pushing through weeks 10 and 11 of the term. Not because anything is wrong with the term, but the weather is so gorgeous that its too hard to call them back inside in the morning and sit at the table. Also, Norah has discovered that she can open my kitchen drawers this week. We toddler proofed the cabinets a while back but she didn't know how to open the drawers. Until now. Craig picked up some locks at home depot tonight and they will be installed this weekend. But one more week! We can do it.

Cleaning - Everything! My spring cleaning fever has kicked in. I don't ever plan for spring cleaning, I just wait until I get the urge. It normally happens around Easter. And yes, all of a sudden I need to clean all the things! But the main floor is almost done and now that the baby chicks around out of the basement, I'll move down there. This is probably another reason the school days seem harder. Doing both well is difficult and maybe I should have waited until exams were done but I want to be done by next week too! Then it's spring break for everyone! I've got books to read! And Macarons to perfect!


First batch of Macarons. Edible but ugly. 

4.06.2017

Whole30/Elimination Diet Wrap-up

I didn't mean to leave y'all hanging with the whole 30 thing but it just took for-e-ver to finish adding it everything. Yesterday I had quinoa with seemingly no reaction so I think it's finished!!! YAY! Now, the hard part has been over for a while. I like quinoa as much as the next gal, maybe more so, but its not exactly hard to live without it either. Really once wheat and butter was back, the rest seemed inconsequential. Although my first bite of peanut butter was really all I imagined it to be.

The good news - the brown rice was the only thing I reacted to! Which means that I don't have any big dietary changes to keep up with. The caveat is that I do feel the effects of sugar pretty quickly. But it's not a no sugar thing, just a really watch myself. And things with fat and protein along with that sugar seem much easier for me to handle. Yes to a bowl of ice cream after dinner - no to the donuts at church. I also lost about 5 lbs. Not gonna complain about that even thought it wasn't really a goal of mine either way. Now if I keep up with the ice cream thing it might not stay lost but c'est la vie.

The bad news - the brown rice was the only thing I reacted to. No big miracle with a diet change like so many other people with hashimotos/thyroid issues. Now, I'm in a good thyroid place right now but I was hoping that I'd discover something helpful after having put all the time and money and energy into giving it a try. If I work hard to put a positive spin on it, I still did learn something and now I don't have to worry about whether there is a big diet component I'm missing.

Overall, I'm not super impressed by Whole30 program. I know a lot of people who really like it and if you are eating a Standard American Diet, I can see how it would probably be a good change. I'm more of a slow and steady type when it comes to major lifestyle changes but I know there are some personalities that do better with this type of program. Whole30 is clearly laid out in terms of rules and there is a lot of support on blogs so you don't have to make too many decisions which is a huge factor for me and the time factor and goal setting is a big part of it. It's not really meant to be sustainable in its entirely but if you can keep some of the changes, you're probably going to be better off. My guess is that a lot of people go right back into eating the same old crap they were before. I did. I mean, not crappy processed foods, but the same stuff I ate before. Not a lot of the changes stuck. I ate a lot more vegetables while on Whole30 (because I couldn't eat anything else!!!) including a large salad for lunch everyday and I hoped to keep up with that - but have not done as well as I hoped. For the most part, we eat really healthy, whole foods that I prepare myself, it's just that they are now back to being cheesier.

I really wondered if this whole thing would change my perception of Paleo. I didn't come in with the mindset that grains are the enemy or dairy is inherently bad for you. I just didn't believe that despite the current hype. I was really a bit nervous that I'd chance my mind and then be stuck having to live without them. Now after having eaten dairy/grain free for a while - I still don't believe those things. I like those foods, I think they are healthy if your body can handle them. Mind can and I will continue to eat my delicious fresh raw milk and peanut butter and banana toast. Of course, if you can't handle them that's different. None of the Paleo things I ate in the last 6 weeks are bad for me either but my body clearly needed more carbs that I could easily get with Paleo, at least not with the amount of time I was able to dedicate to feeding myself.