A Mother's Daybook - December 31

Thinking - I've figured out a way to get selective instagram posts to feed over here to blogger but it won't be all of them. Just occassionally, like the Lefse post. We'll see how I like it.

Eating and drinking - Well, lefse! And eggnog and fudge all things homemade. It was just the 5 of us and with one non-eater and two light eaters, we didn't make a big christmas dinner, just a roast and salad. But that left time for homemade lefse. Last year we got some official tools (a lefse board and stick) and between that and using real potatos and not flakes (this recipe), we were able to produce what I think is the best batch of lefse I've ever had.

Or maybe this tradition of Craig's family and community is just growing on me. I actually enjoyed it this year. I've heard you may need to eat a food 10-15 times before you like it. Since I've had lefse once a year since 2005, that's about right! I've also learned a few tricks in that time, I prefer it warm not cold and like butter and cinnamon sugar. The butter and sugar is traditional; I'm not sure about the cinnamon. But its tasty so I don't care.

I also decided to make homemade eggnog for Craig. He loves it and I've always thought it was gross but I hate him drinking store bought eggnog with its yucky additives when we have fresh eggs, milk and cream at our disposal. It turns out, while I think store bought eggnog is unpalatable and won't touch it, homemade eggnog is amazing! I'm not sure Craig likes this. Instead of getting his own bottle, he had to share this year. I've got to make up for past years though, right? I'm already saving up our eggs for the next batch. Come on chickens, I've been opening up the garage so you can escape the rain, you owe me!

Praying - For all the people affected by the flooding. We're doing okay here but its pretty intense in our area.

Thankful - For Craig. He left work early yesterday and was able to get close to our home pretty easily despite road closures and traffic but stopped to do some sandbagging. The kids and I had a pretty uneventful day. No major discipline issues, no crankiness, lots of naps from the baby and I even gave a kid a bath before completing our full bedtime routine without help. But still, it was a long day and I was so happy to see him come through the door a little before 8pm! And I know that isn't unusual for a lot of families.  I was once again reminded of how spoiled I am. He gets up super early so he can work a 9 hour day and still be home at 4pm for a full evening of family time.

Reading - None of my classics :-( Next year I'm going to make my list later on in December. I picked out all these books and then have to sit and twiddle my thumbs until the 1st to start them.

In the meantime, I'm working through two non-fiction selections, Better Than Before and Unglued. Both have got me thinking about habits and patterns in my life. I haven't decided for sure if I'm making New Years Resolutions (other than repeating the outdoor and back to classics challenges). I probably will just because I like that sort of thing. I happen to think the New Year is a good time to make changes, but so is the beginning of fall, and the middle of July and April 17th. I'm really always up for self-improvement if it involves lists and to-dos. For instance, recently I wanted to get a bit more serious about budgeting and being involved with our finances so I asked Craig for ynab software because his method of just looking at our bank account and keeping mental track of our bills doesn't work for me. Most people would probably have waited until the beginning of the new year, but I said, nay, it's December 5th so let's start now! Why not?

Watching - Hamlet. I'm going to start reading it soon with the ambleside group but I wanted to watch the modern David Tennant version that is on pbs.org before it disappears (mid-January I think?). It's long and our bedtimes are early but we're getting through it bit by bit and so far I like it.

Watching (part 2) - The kids build a brush pile. Lucy's been asking Craig for a little while now but every day he has off, its been raining and it gets dark so early that even coming home at 4pm doesn't leave enough time. But the flood means no work so today's the day! She's so excited but I think we might have to explain that it might take a while before any animals or birds call it home.

Anticipating - Getting back to our regular routine. I knew it coming into the holidays that we don't do totally unscheduled very well around here. Our routine is pretty flexible but boy do we need it! So I'm excited about one more three day weekend with Craig; a small kid-friendly New Years Eve Party we're hosting, and some ephipany celebrating but I'm still having to fight the urge to clean up the mess and get back to business. But first, a couple more batches of cookies :-)


K-drama wrap-up 2015

The premiere k-drama blog, dramabeans, has been doings its yearly wrap-ups and it confirmed something for me - it was a bit of a slow year for good k-dramas, especially in the rom-com and lighthearted categories. Most of the top shows seemed to be procedural or dramatic (not my thing) and the rom-coms that did get recapped or reviews mostly did not fare that well. Too many duds! This was actually reassuring. I was thinking it was just me being unispired to watch and got worried. Was I "over" k-dramas or something? And yes, my limited show watching time is currently being used up by a spanish show but still, I can't leave behind my k-dramas. I guess just need something good to watch :-) But splish splash love is short and has lots of good reviews so I'm trying that out.

But here are the few shows I'm see since July and my ratings. It's a short list because it doesn't count the shows I started but didn't finish or just wasn't willing to even try (at least not yet, I do think I'll gamble with Answer Me, 1988, but I want to make sure people are happy with the end first. I don't think I can take another AM 1994 incident)

Oh My Ghostess - 4 stars

This is one of those shows that is really not all at well depicted by the tag line description. A ghost trying to lose her virginity may be technically true at the beginning of the show but you could say the same thing about describing You're Beautiful by saying its about a cross dressing nun in a boy band. Well, yes, but no, not really at all.

But weird storyline idea aside, this is cute. I wish it had developed the non-possessed version of our heroine more or at least given more time to her and Chef's resolution as the ending felt like a bit of a cop-out. But that's really me being a bit knit picky. The chemistry is great as is the cast. I adore Jo Jung-suk, as always, and he's perfect as our hard exteriored marshmellow of a chef. Park Bo-young does a great job selling both of her characters. Kim Seul-gie is hilarious as always (she's a big part of why I am trying Splish Splash Love).  It's sweet and fun and the mystery keeps the show going without adding too much angst.

Sassy Go Go - 4.25 stars

Another show that doesn't seem to match its descriptions. This was misleading as it presented itself as a highschool drama pitting the cheerleaders against the dance team and seemed very Bring It On-esq in the marketing. But it was a whole lot meatier than that. I don't mean it was cw melodramatic. Every so often it thought about it but always seemed to pull back before it hit crazy territory (although that's a bit sad because I really wish some of those situations were ridiculously overdone but given Korea's school climate, I don't think they are). It was just less shallow that I expected with its sweet friendships and struggles of growing up and making decisions. Go show go!

Warm and Cozy - 2 stars

This makes me sad. Great actor. Lovely location. The Hong Sisters writing. What could go wrong? Well, nothing. But in that case this is a problem because there was no story. Nothing happened in this show! Nothing! Where was the conflict? Where was the plot? Where was the quintessential Hong Sisters wackiness? Not here.

Splish Splash Love - 3.75 stars

Super cute! This was a drama special (just two episodes, about an hour each) so it didn't have the depth that a normal drama does but that meant the plot kept moving. Parts of it did remind me of an after school special (of the pbs not lifetime variety) and then I noticed that it was sponsored by an educational department or something which made more sense. But the history and math parts just made it more fun. And this is tons of fun and laughs. Great if you are looking for a short drama to watch over the holiday break.


The Outdoor Hours and the Blessings of the Seasons

I just picked up Gretchen Rubin's new book about habits, Better Than Before, from the library and so far, its good. I really just think she and I would get along so well, we are definitely cut from the same cloth in many ways.

Not surprisingly, reading it has got me pondering my habits, especially the ones I've most recently had success in adding. The biggest this year was my challenge to get  the kids outside a lot, 500 or more hours to be precise. We had some setbacks but we made it and depending on this next week, we should be ending up with a total of about 510-515 hrs. I consider that a success. While I think it will be much easier to reach 500 hours next year (and I'm actually thinking about aiming for 600, or at least 550), one of the hard parts of this habit is always going to be keeping it up,  because unlike a lot of habits, this one can't really remain constant all year - unless you live in Guam, I guess. I can tell we are already starting to revert to hermiting more and more and losing the expectancy of going outside.

I could get really frustrated by this because it does feel like I'm losing ground on a hard earned habit. And I am fighting it a bit. Since it has been such a mild winter, I try to make sure and get us outside at least a little bit every day.  But I've also decided not to stress about it too much because one of the biggest benefits I've seen from us being outside is that we are living more seasonally. If you had asked me a year or two ago, I would have said living seasonally was something I wanted to embrace and I did try to accomplish but, going back to the idea of habits, it was hard for me even though I really wanted it. Now, part of the change might be that my oldest is getting older and I think age of the oldest seems to do a lot in setting the tone. I can't deny though, that another big factor was the outdoor challenge. The more time we spent outside when it was nice weather and long days, the more I notice the difference when that changes. And its not just me.

When we had the big "fall back" daylight savings switch, I was quite surprised to find that Jonah kept wanting to put pajamas on and read bedtime stories at 6pm. I don't remember Lucy every doing that but that is probably because at the same age, she was spending most of her days inside in artificial light and heating/air conditioning. She just didn't feel the change the same way he did. We have now successfully convinced him that 5:30 is a bit early for a bath but their sleep has changed. I mentioned his dropping his nap in an earlier post. And while I won't lie and say I don't miss it, I've realized there are some benefits as well. I think part of that is that they are sleeping in a bit (a bit being relative to the small child schedule, of course, we're talking 7ish here). Jonah tries to wake up around 6:00 but Lucy will tell him to go back to sleep becayse "it's still dark; it must be the middle of the night" and then, they do! And no afternoon nap leaves us with all day of sunshine to use for playing and other productive pursuits.

I'm embracing this for myself by using blue light blockers on our computer and phones (f.lux for our computer, twilight for our android phones). I also try and dim our overhead lights gradually as the evening progresses and eventually I'd like to get Himalayan salt lamps to use once the sun sets. I've read about experiments in removing all artificial light in the evening hours and I think that'd be a fun temporary experiment but I doubt I'd be willing to live that way long term. But the changes we've made are simple enough.

Our daily routine has always changed a bit for the seasons but the change is more profound now. That will probably be even more true once Lucy starts first grade because we won't have quite as much flex time and I'll want to optimize what we do have. Being indoors more also gives us more time for things like handicrafts and afternoons of free art time whereas before we may have been self-limiting ourselves to the short period of time between dinner and bedtime.

Which I think is the best blessing of living seasonally - the differences I'm allowed to embrace. I'm a big believer in rhythms (not hard and fast schedules but a natural flow to life and habits and organization (and books about routines and habits and organization). It's just my nature and I think small children thrive in that type of environment. But even I need to change things up a bit every once in a while. I can tell its getting to be that time when I feel the urge to rearrange the furniture. Alas, our small house leaves us with few options but I keep trying. It seems like God knew what he was doing because a season seems to be about the length it takes for me to go from being comfortable in a routine to being slightly bored by it and needed, not a complete overhaul, but a slight adjustment. I feel like every season I find myself saying its my favorite season. But I always believe it at the moment!  I just love the mix-up.  If I can't move the couch to the other side of the room, maybe I can just move tea time from afternoon nap to after school in the morning and go from enjoying spending the morning outside and the hot afternoon in a siesta to curling up on the couch watching the kids play in the morning and getting outside from a hike in the brisk afternoon air.

Childhood needs to be a feast of many non-rushed experiences and it can feel overwhelming trying to fit in all the good stuff. But I don't really have to choose. I can let the kids have all day to run around outside and all day to play with blocks and build a city and all day to do handicrafts and all day to swim at the creek - just at different times of the year!


Using my cute baby to test something #1000words

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1QCTWtL


I am feeling old. I think 30 is the year at which every new technology gets hard or something. I just joined Instagram and I think it will be fun but I'm also sure I'm kinda out the loop and a bit overwhelmed. I don't remember feeling this way about any other social media. I didn't stick with Twitter but it just wasn't a good fit for me. In other words, it was them, not me. This feels like me.

It probably doesn't help that any time I look for help I get articles like "how to take the perfect flat picture" or "how to build your business on instagram." Blogging is not a business for me and I could care less about flat pictures of the latte I'm not drinking or the new clothes I'm not buying. I just want to have more encouragement to capture all the sweet but all too fleeting moments with my kids while I can. And to share with you all our fun times and to continue to be a part of the community I've wedged myself into. So my goals are clear and I think Instagram can be a useful part of that but how? Another blogger I had followed pretty much stopped blogging but continues to feed her Instagram to her blog and I had originally planned to do that (the feeding the post part, not the stop blogging part :-). So I could keep up blogging consistency but not worry about posting as many big thoughtful posts when I don't have the time to do that. I love those because its my brain dump but they will have to be less frequent. But I'm wondering now if that's redundant if most of the people that read the blog will also follow me on instagram? So keep them separate (except for my name)? Install a widget so you can see my instagram pictures on the blog? That will only work if you read from the actual site but how many of you are feedly readers? I love feedly but most you use a reader or come straight here? Ahh! To many decisions.

Feel free to offer advice or suggestions. I have quite a few followers (on the blog, not instagram) but not very many commenters (except on my book posts! Yay! That made me so happy!) so if you do take the time to comment, you have a big influence on me.

Oh, and it just occured to me that maybe you'd like to follow me on instagram (see, new to this!). I'm brc_mackenzie. And if that didn't tip you off to my newness, head over to my feed and see Lucy in three different pictures (on three different days!) but the same outfit. An real Instagram wife would never have made that mistake. 


The Camel Tradition Continues

Facebook reminded me this morning that three years ago I had posted about our trip to the Way of Lights. I didn't really need this reminded because we went again last night. I'm not sure its worth a trip just for it alone but we were up near there anyway and this gave us the opportunity to get our third newborn with a camel picture. It's become a tradition now. 


Norah and I (along with our trusty friend, the green ring sling that was also at each event. I love that thing!)

Here's Lucy's shot (at the state fair when she was about 2 months old)

And Jonah's (at the Way of Lights at about 3 months old.) 

I really never would have guessed when we took that first one that it would be repeated but once we did it twice, we had to keep going and luckily, this is the season for camel spotting. Do any of you have "spontaneous" traditions like this? I'd love to hear about them, especially if they are as random as this one.


My annual Advent-al thoughts post.

The library emailed me yesterday to let me know the copy of Crystal Paine's (aka money saving mom) book Goodbye to Survival Mode was available. I don't remember putting it on hold but I guess I did. So I read the first two chapters and decided to return in. Not because its bad, its just I realized that I'm not the target audience. I have said goodbye to survival mode. I don't need to read about boundaries and saying no and leaving margin. Just another way God has blessed me through my Hashimoto's. My life is very pared down now. It's how we survived this pregnancy. And its why we are thriving right now. And we are thriving.

Last week I had a really bad case of laryngitis. It's been going our the mom circle here so perhaps I should have known better than to pray for the ability to not yell at my children when I ran out of patience. Because I certainly was not yelling at them last week, it was rough. And for about half a day I panicked. This is the busiest week of my month, I can't get sick! But then I calmed down, took out my bullet journal and took a look at the calendar and to-do list. And yes, it was the busiest week but I had enough margin. Only one thing got canceled, a trip to the dentist, and only because I didn't want to expose them to my germs. We did postpone St. Lucia's day to this weekend but its not on the kids calendar and what they don't know won't hurt them.

So even a virus can't stop me from having a great advent season. I really like living a liturgical year. It's something my mom valued when I was growing up and even though we are in a much less liturgical church now, it's still something that I enjoy being a part of our family culture. But I was still having a hard time figuring out how to teach it by just living it. Sometimes felt like all I was doing was trying to push back Christmas because I was supposed to. And we do need a bit of that type of patience in our culture but its more than that.

This year I feel like I personally am having a season of Advent and that's enough. The kids will get what they get. I don't mean that none of it is kid-centered or fun, but its all real stuff. Friday we have plans to go drive through the Nativity Story in lights and a few days after that is our annual trip to the Living Nativity down the road. And on the worst afternoon of my sickness last week, I threw some Nativity themed pattern block printouts at them, put the bucket of shapes on the floor and told them Norah and I were napping and to play nice until daddy got home. Advent themed homeschool activity - check!

But I've just been able to enjoy this season so much (laryngitis aside). I'm not normally one of those people who picks a theme verse or a word of the year that God is speaking to them. But I do feel like the last two years of Advent were times when God worked with me on the idea of waiting. And I was leaning on Him to help me wait and clinging to all the patience and peace I could manage to grab by the tips of my fingers while hanging off a cliff. I'm not sure if that analogy makes sense at all but its what it felt like. If some well meaning person had quotes me a verse like Isaiah 40:31 (But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint) or sing Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, I would have wanted to punch them. Hopefully I would have been able to restrain myself but the thought would have been there either way. 

This year, my focus has not been on the waiting aspect but instead the penitence side of things. God has clearly showed me a few areas I was dropping the ball on and need to change things. Which doesn't sound very enjoyable but true to His nature, it was revealed in a "I love you too much to let you stay in your sin" way. And that's what Advent is all about really. God loving us so much He couldn't let us stay in our sin and had to send a Messiah.

I feel no condemnation in that. Sadness, yes.  Sin is sad, no getting around it. But no guilty following that, just hope. And peace. Because the peace that I was clinging to so tightly earlier is here all around me now even when the fingers of my soul are unclenched. When I see that Isaiah verse now, I can recognize its truth. Because something being renewed meant that at one point before the renewal, it was low or old or in need of refreshing. That was me. And I waited. And now that I have strength again, God is guiding me forward and continuing to refine me. So much hope is in that thought. And I want to remember that feeling so that next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time, whether that's a relapse of my Hashimotos, other health problems or something else entirely I don't know, but next time I want to remember that yes, I will eventually get to the renewing part.

So knowing I'm at a point where God has energized me enough to work on these sin is encouraging. But being reminded of the truth that I am in need of refinement and lots of it is a gift too. If I wasn't in need of savior, then Jesus would just be some baby in a manger and Christmas wouldn't be necessary. Being reminded of the need for the gift of Christ only increases my desire to celebrate his coming. But I am and he is. He is coming. Christ is coming! Christmas is coming!


2016 Book Goals

I said in an earlier post that I only met two of my seven goals for the year but that was a lie. It's 4 out of 9! Way better. I had just completely forgotten about my book goals because I didn't have them listed in the same spot in my bullet journal. That little red book is my brain right now so if it isn't written down, its a mystery when I'll be able to remember it. Actually, I know when I'll remember - 2am when I'm feeding a baby seems to be a prime time to remember something I was supposed to do but didn't. 

But not only did I complete my 12 Back to the Classics read, I also reached my overall goal of 75 books. I'll probably end up closer to 100 by the end of the month. I credit a big part of that to my
pre-planned reading list.

Last year was the first time I tried it and I loved it. I only had about 30 or so books listed so even with those and the classics challenge, I had plenty of wiggle room to add it whatever I stumbled upon. But I can tell that even with the large number of books I read, the quality of my reading went up. And it makes me much more willing to try harder books this year. 

One thing I've realized too is that all these books I consider to be hard classics where very popular in their day. As in, read by lots of people - for fun! So chances are, they are going to be enjoyable. I do read to expose myself to new ideas and elevate my thinking but I also read for fun. And I really do hope that many of these are fun because I seemed to have picked a lot of books that I think will be challenging, for me at least.

*With AO Discussion Group
**Back to the Classic Challenge Selection


Christopher Columbus*
Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior


- Mind 2 Mind By Karen Glass*** - Finish from 2015

Minds More Awake by Anne White

Other Non-fiction

-  How Now Shall We Then Live - Finish from 2015
- When Athens Met Jerusalem (Rollover from last year but I asked for it as an ILL about two months ago and I'm still waiting :-(
- Howards End is on the landing
- The Entitlement Cure
- Move Your Dna (?) 

Classics and Harder Fiction

- Hamlet*
- Utopia*/**
- I Promessi, Sposi */**
- Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves* - Yes, I keep trying these long poems. Eventually I'll make it through one!
- Brideshead Revisited**
- Waverly
- Bleak House**

Medium Weight Fiction
- A Man for All Seasons */**
-The Woman in White **
- Just So Stories **
- Persuasion**

Light Reading
- Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
- Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis (if I like Doomsday)
- Hood by Stephen Lawhead - Finish from 2015
- Come Rain or Come Shine
- A Curious Beginning
- The Giving Quilt
- Gentian Hill
- Shades of Gray: The Road to High Saffron

So about the same starting number as last year although I think a considerable harder list. Although maybe its just that once I read a book, I don't consider it hard anymore. It's just the unknown that intimidates me.  And I'm starting AO Y1 with Lucy this year so that's quite a bit of reading in addition to my personal reading so I do think I'll lower my overall goal to 60 just so I don't feel too much pressure. But overall, I'm really excited about my selections and can't wait to get started!


Norah Jane @ 2 Months!

Dear Norah,

Two months. Time flies. I know I'll say that every month but every month it is true. This has been a fun month. Smiles! Coos! Head control!

One of my favorite Jonah quotes: "I really love dat baby. I think we should keep it for a long long time."

You are still a very content baby. You've settled into a pretty nice little routine and you're "witching hour" is very mild compared to your brother and sisters so we get to enjoy you almost all day. And Lucy and Jonah do enjoy your company.

They love holding you and showing you things and Jonah would hug and kiss you all day if I'd let him. Yesterday at church he was sitting on my lap and daddy was holding you and he reached over to hold your leg and kept patting it the whole prayer time.

That shirt is a lie :-)

You love to sleep and do so a lot. You're a great napper although if we mess you up with short car rides you do tend to get annoyed. You want real naps thank you very much. You prefer to be in bed but you'll also take them in a swing, on the floor, in a stroller or in a sling. Yesterday you even fell asleep sitting up in my lap while skying with your grandparents. I'm cautiously optimistic that will continue. I have yet to have a picture of your siblings asleep in a high chair or anywhere funny but maybe you?

A stroller nap

You're not a very loud baby most of the time. You have started to coo a bit but you rarely cry. Night time car rides and my changing your diaper while you have rash (like you do right now) are about the only times. If you don't like where you are or want attention you'll make an angry squawk sound but the anger is longer as a facial expression than a sound.

 You are also slow to smile. You are normally very happy first thing in the morning and right before bed and I can coax some big grins out of you but the rest of the time you just sit back and take it all in with a poker face. Much more like Jonah than Lucy, you remind me of Marilla Cuthbert when she says "But I'd rather walk calmly along and do without flying AND thud."

There's a little smile. 

You do want to take it all in though. You love lying on your lamb fleece near Lucy and Jonah while they play.

Supervising some Christmas baking

You also like tummy time as long as you are propped on my legs so you can actually see what they are doing. You still like your favorite position lying down over an arm but now that you are getting some head control, you're starting to prefer sitting up in my lap. Basically, you just want to see what is happening around you.

Getting ready to go outside. This is one my favorite pictures of you. 

You found your fist and like to suck on it but still have no use for a pacifier. And you obviously like to nurse. You have your 2 month check up a few days ago and were 12 lbs 5 oz and 23 inches long. I'm still squeezing you into your yellow prefolds because I need to prewash the reds but you are about burst out of them any day now. And you wear a mix of 0-3 and 3-6 clothes. I love all your rolls but I think your chipmunk cheeks are my favorite. I just can't stop from kissing them and I'm so glad that gentle squeezing them is one of the most fail proof ways to make you smile.

A delicate flower :-)


A Mother's Daybook - December 13th

Re-adjusting to - Our new computer! It's been almost two months without a reliable one and about a month without one at all so its really nice to be back to a full keyboard. We spent all weekend getting it up and going with our files and programs and then doing the list of things we needed a computer to do. I love checking things off my to-do list so this was great.

But I must admit, I'm still struggling with it a bit. I knew that my personality isn't big on change but apparently neither is my body. The mouse pad is different and it has a full number pad which was great when we were doing the budget yesterday but it skews the keypad over. And don't even get me started on Windows 10.  My body thinks it knows what its doing and tries to function on auto-pilot but it doesn't really get it right. I'm sure I'll get used to it without another week or so, I just have to try and not chuck it out the window before then.  I also think I have to get used to blogging again. When we first lost it, I kept thinking of things to blog about and was annoyed that I couldn't. Now I can but can't think of what posts I was wanting to write!

Rejoicing - Goal hitting! This week was the week we went over 500 hours outside. I hate to brag but I accomplished exactly two of my seven resolutions this year :-)

Now, joking aside, I'm completely okay with that because several of those goals were my attempt to rejoice in the current situation God had placed us in (as in, no baby) and do things that were options in that season that might not be if we were pregnant or dealing with a newborn. So when February came and along with it news of a baby's impending arrival, I was more than happy to ditch them. French is fun but Norah Jane is way more so. But it also makes the ones I did accomplish a bit more special. And this was one of my top two so I'm pretty excited I did it.

Mourning - the loss of Jonah's naptime. Yep, naptime has become quiet time. Lucy was pretty consistent with her naps until this summer and even now falls asleep during her "quiet time"  1-2/week and would quietly lie down and rest on the other days so I was a bit spoiled by her. But Jonah's not having it. I could see it coming but this week I finally gave in and mentally accepted that a nap is now a bonus instead of something I can count on. He only took a nap two days this week and fought it the others (by which I mean I had to put him back in bed or go quiet him every 5-10 minutes). I have no plans to drop quiet time (ever really) so he'll learn eventually but its not the same for me, at least right now when I can't trust him enough to let myself nap or even really rest. I still have hope that when spring and the long days playing outside return, he'll start up again but that's just a bit of hope to keep me motivated.

Listening to - The nutcracker. We have the maestro classics version to go along with the picture book we're reading slowly as part of table time.  I'm really enjoying it and its serving as a great reminder that some things are more enjoyable when they are familiar. That's a concept I want to remember during future composer studies.

Reading - I just finished The Awakening of Miss Prim. I found it delightful. A good light read that isn't twaddle and still offered lots of think about. I wish I had been able to read it with a commonplace book in hand because there were so many good quotes. I do wish it was a bit longer, not just so the ending was more fleshed out but overall too. And as it was a debut novel, I look forward to see what the author comes up with next (but I guess I'll have to since she has to write it and then it has to be translated and that will probably take a while).

I also finished Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Nothing new or ground breaking there but good motivation as we get back on track budget-wise. When you spend a year sick and then another year sick and pregnant, coupon clipping and budget tracking tend to go down a bit on the priority list but that's about to change. It's a good thing my kids like rice and beans.

Our current family real aloud is A Tree for Peter. I read it two years ago around this time and am happy to do so again. I did have to renew it and was partly glad I could and partly upset that no one else was waiting for it. It's a Christmas read so are we the only family that will read it this year? That's just sad.

Watching - Gran Hotel. Another sub-titled show but surprisingly not a k-drama. It's a spanish period drama involving the upstairs (owner and family) and downstairs (staff) at a hotel and the mysteries then encounter. So pretty much everything I love: murder mystery + early 1900s + foreign languages + (fairly) clean love stories. And while I like sub-titles shows when I've got a wee baby because I can watch while holding a napping baby, I do like to keep the sound on very low for this one because I'm pretty much addicted to the way Julio says Alicia.

One caveat, don't expect the first season to be self contained. I actually didn't realize it was more than one season until I was already in to deep to stop but you don't end that season with any answers. That's okay because I want to keep watching but it was a bit of shock at first. I'm only at episode 20 or 21 so I have 40+ to go.  And you would think that people would stop vacationing at this "Grand Hotel" when people seem to be dropping like flies already but that sort of logic issue has never stopped me from reading mystery series either (I mean, why would anyone want to be friends with Nancy Drew? Scary!)  But if your okay with the committment, go for it.


Back to the Classics Challenge - 2016 Plans

I really enjoyed participating in the Back to the Classics Challenge this year and can't wait to start again in 2016. I was already making my reading plan for this upcoming year (which I hope to post soon too) before Karen posted the catagories and several of my selections have found a spot on this list but there are still a number categories that I hadn't decided on. So suggestions are welcome, especially lighter or easier ones. Looking at this list and my overall 2016 hope to read list, I'm in trouble. I've picked a lot of really long and/or heavy books and I'm not sure I'll be able to accomplish my goals. But I'll be trying!

Head over to Books and Chocolate for more info about the challenge and further explanation of the categories but here are my tentative choices (I changed several mid-way last year so who knows what I'll end up with this year).

1.  A 19th Century Classic - Brideshead Revisited

2.  A 20th Century Classic - A Man for All Seasons 

With the AO discussion group. 

3.  A classic by a woman author. Undecided

I've very tempted to put The Head of the House of Coombe or another of Francis Hodges Burnett's adult novels here. I just discovered them last year with The Shuttle for the challenge and then T. Tembarom which I finished last week. So I'm sure I'd enjoy another but I also want to use this challenge to find new authors so we'll see. 

4.  A classic in translation.  I, Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed)

I plan to read this along with the AO forum book discussion group. If I wasn't, I might pick Anna Karinana because I've read two different articles lately that mention it as a good read for a Christians to read, especially for its views on marriage which was interesting to me so that is on my maybe list for the year. Funnily enough, The Betrothed is also supposed to be a good book about marriage and apparently earlier this year Pope Francis recommended engaged couples read it before marriage. Apparently I'm just in a marriage themed translated book mood?

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Undecided.


6.  An adventure classic - Undecided. 

Well, is Waverly an adventure classic? It can be hard to tell if a book fits a category if one hasn't read it and don't want to read too many summary type things for fear of spoilers. Opinions? Or maybe I'll just have to read it to find out for myself but I've heard there is treason and an escape of some kind and that sounds adventurous to me. 

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. 

1984 was on my list last year for short novel but I ended up picking something else for that category instead. Will this be its year or will I move on yet again? Dystopian novels aren't really my thing but the point of this is to stretch me out of my normal reading zones. 

Update: Oh, I just remembered I'm also trying to read Utopia with the AO group too. Would that fit this category? Sometimes its hard to determine if a book fits if you haven't read it. I think it would so we'll go with that for now.

8.  A classic detective novel. A Woman in White

This was already on my 2016 list. I really enjoyed Wilkie Collins's other famous novel, the moonstone, last year. This one is long but I've heard it is worth it.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. Bleak House

Another that was already on my 2016 list. I'm determined not to give up on Dickens so despite my not falling in love with A Tale of Two Cities last year, I want to read this. It sounds like something I would like and as far as I know, unlike A Tale of Two Cities, it hasn't been "spoiled" for me. And if I do finish it, I can reward myself by watching the mini-series. BBC is always a good motivator for me.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. Undecided.

Would Where the Wild Things or The Night Kitchen count? Just kidding ;-) I've already read the ones that immediately came to mind (Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc) and I like my reads to be pretty clean in terms of sex and violence so I probably won't want to read anything that was banned for those reasons. Suggestions welcome here. 

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  Persuasion. 

I've been wanting to re-read it for a while. I can't remember how long its been since my last read. It has never been one of my favorite Austen novels (not that I dislike it, I don't dislike anything by Austen, even Northhanger Abbey) but my guess is that this one gets better as you age so I'm curious to see if it rises on my list after a re-read. 

12. A volume of classic short stories. 
I have no idea! Suggestions please! 

Update: I'm stealing someone else's idea of The Just So Stories. I've been meaning to pre-read it as Lucy will start it as part of AO year 1 soon and I've heard it is a lot easier to read aloud if you've practiced. 


Silly third time mom

Despite using cloth diapers and not having cable, I really enjoy those Luvs commercials about one first time/second time moms. They just make me laugh. And there is some truth to them because motherhood is a muscle (another h/t to Karen. Her links this week were great). But no matter how long you've been a mom, sometimes you do things you realize may seem silly, all for cuteness sake.

We have a gingerbread-house-decorating play date this morning which means I have to get everyone dressed and out of the house by 9:15. So what do I do after I get the baby dressed in a cute outfit? Realize that if she's going to tag along for gingerbread house decorating, she needs to be wearing her gingerbread girl outfit of course! So I take off a clean cute outfit and put on another just for festivity's sake.

I think we'll still be on time, but if not, it will still be worth it.


Advent this year.

So let's take a look and see how I'm doing with my plan to keep advent simple, shall we?

All we have set up so far this holiday season is our piano display. I could have tidied up a bit and removed "Monsieur Mouse" but this is what it really looks like so I didn't. You're welcome.

There is our advent wreath, still lacking greenery. But I have to buy a bunch for decorating for the church potluck next week so I will definitely have some after that. No need to make an extra trip to the plant store with a newborn. We might even get our tree then. Last year we waited until the middle of the month but the guy who tied it up for us mentioned that it was a good thing we came when we did as they were sending all the trees back the next day and generally acted as if we must hate Christmas because we put it off sooo long. I resisted the urge to vent about how it used to be common practice to buy a tree Christmas eve so we really aren't as weird as he seemed to think. I don't really care what the tree guy thinks but I am a little worried this year that if we wait too long we won't get one. (And don't take this to mean I care when you put up your tree, I don't. Unless it's before Thanksgiving. Then you are just wrong.) And I'm not a total scrooge. We wait for our tree, but Norah gets to wear her Christmas jammies all month long.

Hmm, was that just a ploy to get a picture of her in here? Probably.

Then there is my lovely willow tree nativity set. We finally got the wise men addition and I just love it all. I do wish I could leave Jesus out of it until Christmas but he's attached to Mary (as he should be if she's a nursing mom ;-) ) so he stays. It didn't look like this when I set it up but even with a play set out as well, this one tends to get lovingly rearranged.

Our upcoming Christmas picture books (this isn't all of them!). We read one new one each night. Up next is one of my very favorites.

Below that is the well worn copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible. We read one chapter a night and it takes 24 days to get from Genesis to Jesus' birth. Not quite as long as advent but we always end up missing a day or two anyway. This might be our last year using this as our "study", at least on its own. But maybe not. It's so simple but I love getting a glimpse  of the whole story before we focus in our Jesus' birth.

And our little manger. The one I had made broke last year but the kids now like to build one out of blocks. We add a piece of straw every night after our reading and say the Come Lord Jesus prayer. Which goes, wait for it..."Come Lord Jesus, Amen." I still have to help Jonah on his nights as he tends to replace "Amen" with "the end" so we clearly aren't ready for anything more complicated than that yet. We'll add Jesus on Christmas.

 The nice thing about this is the kids can take turns, one gets to blow out the candles the other add the yarn "straw". Of course, now that we have three kids and two jobs, that benefit won't last much longer. Is it too much to hope that when she's 7, Lucy won't want to blow out the candle? Yes, it is. I guess we'll have to take turns (gasp!)

We are already getting practice with taking turns with our toy nativity set. It's the little people one and it is a favorite each year. We have all the pieces still but not all are seen here. I'm pretty sure I saw Mary and a wise man hanging out in Lucy's dress up purse. No jokes please. And I don't think there was a bus involved although I'm sure Mary would have appreciated one.

So that's how we do advent around here. Simple and a bit messy. But when your five year old prays thanking God for sending his Jesus to be a rescuer for the WHOLE world, you know its getting through somehow. And that's what what matters.

Head over to Like Mother Like Daughter to see how other families prepare for His arrival!


Thanksgiving Memories

How does a Jabberwocky loving boy respond when his uncle tells him to get ready to catch a ball? By throwing out his arms and saying "Come to my arms, my beamish boy!"

Lucy: My tummy is feeling too full but I'm not done with my pie.
Me: Well, if you're feeling full, maybe you should stop eating.
Lucy: I can't stop! It's pie!

I got several books that told the original Thanksgiving story but there was one clear winner for Lucy, The Very First Thanksgiving Day. She sat and memorized the whole book. It's a poem and she even worked on her rhythm and accents until she could recite it very well - and every one else in the house could too :-) Then she found a feather and completely on her own made a headdress like the illustrations showed on the "Indians, skillful and strong" section. 

Thanksgiving Week

Still no reliable computer for now (it isbordered an on is way though!) but my hands doing a lot better and I miss blogging so I'm going to try just using my phone. But beat with me if this ends up full of typos please.

We just finished up a week full of visitors. First was Grandpa and Gigi. I did a horrible job taking pictures but the kids got spoiled with trips to the pool and I got spoiled by having two extra sets of eyes and hands helping me get through Ikea with all three kids. I don't think I'll be attempting that by myself for, well, years!

Lucy also had her first night away from me when she spent the night at the hotel. When I asked her if she wanted to, she was concerned about missing Jonah too much (they share a room and love to yalk yo each ofher before they go to bed) but the ice cream plus movie combination seemed to help and she was returned to us in the morning, happy but a bit tired from all the fun.
Obviously very homesick

They barely had time to mourn the leaving of the grandparents because Aunt Steph and Uncle Chad arrived to help us celebrate Thanksgiving.

I was a bit worried about getting everything done for Thanksgiving with Norah Jane being only 6 weeks old. Mostly because I had a hard time dropping things. I kept considering ways to make my life easier, but couldn't give in. Store bought pie crust? No! Drop the sweet potatoes? I can't! And three pies for 4 adults and two kids might seem excessive but its tradition. I did use packaged stuffing since my regular recipe requires me to make two types of homemade bread but that was my one concession. But despite that, it was my easiest Thanksgiving yet. I was actually worried that I had forgotten something because it all came together too fast.

 I guess years of helping my mom plus three years of hosting it myself have made it routine. And I didn't have any of last years gluten free worries. Plus, I've got a few other traditions helping me out - Craig takes care of the turkey (with a bit of supervision from me because I'm controlling like that) and Uncle Chad and Lucy make the green bean casserole together. She also helps me make the cranberry sauce so I decided Jonah needed a job too.

He took his job of buttering and making the rolls very seriously. He let me help him roll but then and refused my help with spreading butter or rolling then up. And they actually turned out really nice looking.

Add in a mellow baby and a couple of loving baby holders and, bam, you've got yourself a turkey dinner.

Lucy demonstrating her big sis skills.

The uncle and aunt also took it upon themselves to introduce to the kids the traditional Thanksgiving sport - football. Jonah has a little basketball hoop and a tee and glove that he occasionally plays with but I think football is his new favorite. But even Lucy had fun tossing it around.

But now the relatives have headed out, the leftovers are mostly eaten and its back to our regular routine. Well, almost. Advent has begun and we're doing Christmas schooling for our table time now. I just love this time of year. So perhaps I'll be better at keeping Advent and Christmas simple than I was with Thanksgiving. Perhaps not :-)