Out with the old...

So 2018 was kinda of a crazy year. A hard year but all for good reasons. Mostly, this one

He's what I call "my very best Jude" (I've also got a very best Jonah, a very best Norah and a very best Lucy :-) But I mean, could he be any cuter? I think not. I am looking forward to a little less of a tumultuous year though. Or at least a mom can hope for that, who knows what the year will actually bring. So far, it's looking good. For now, I want to do a bit of a brain dump of how I feel life's been, more for my own sake than for your edification but since blogging is like that, you can come along if you wish.


Okay, to be honest, four kids is kinda feeling like the straw that broke the camels back. I'm still not quite 5 months into it and everyone is alive and clean and healthy so that's good. I'm sure I'll get past these growing pains and be hitting that "Moms of four are less stressed" point these studies keep telling me about. Actually, we just did so much traveling and once that ended, we had the holidays and it wasn't until Thanksgiving that I finally got my progesterone levels straighten out and the post-partum anxiety and depression lifted. When I look back at all the craziness that the last 6 months held, I actually feel like I've done awesome but I'm also I'm just now coming out of the newborn fog, just with 5 months of low energy living/coasting to make up for and trying not to be overwhelmed. I didn't even realize how exhausted I had been until my energy came back. Except it came back right when Jude's 4 month sleep regression started. So I'm more energetic but also sleepy! I'll get there.

I've also hit the point where I almost feel like it's groundhog day but I have to remember that this is a new three year old learning the lessons I've already taught the other two when they were three. Three is - intense. I was looking for some specific information on sleep times and found some quote about how bedtime should be the best part of your day and if it isn't, you're doing something wrong. I wanted to punch that person. But At least 3/4 of my children are potty trained now. That's a good feeling.

We did make some great memories though. As soon as I finish blogging tonight, I'll shift over to my new year's eve tradition of working on my scrapbooks and can relive all the cute sibling interactions and fun times we had as a family.


We kinda just muddled through. And I'm okay with that. Consistency on a day to day basic still makes progress. Lucy and I only finished 2 terms of year 3 but we enjoyed them for the most part. I didn't do an exam post but we did exams and I can tell she's made a lot of progress. We'll take term 3 kinda slow too because year 4 is a big jump but I'm sure we'll be ready for it when it comes. We've had some tweenish growing pains but also the joy of deeper conversations and thoughts emerging and I'm excited to keep going with that and see her start to become more independent in some areas. Although I'm also sad at the idea of not reading everything with her this year. Just another area of motherhood that brings so many mixed emotions.

Jonah is technically in Kindergarten but has made huge leaps in reading and math, the two things we've done formally. I've seen a ton of growth in him and his self-control and ability to listen and sit sorta still. He is six now so we'll be starting Ambleside Online year 1 next week. I'm excited to do it again and see how he does it in his own unique way.

But once we started up school again after Jude arrived, I felt like it was all too frenzied so we took a breather for December. We finished our regular term and then spent most of the month doing advent-y things and more things together. It was delightful. Just what we needed. I've spent some time reading and pondering what needs to change and I'm excited about our new term - starting next week! I hope to come back to blog about soon.

Mother Culture:

Oh, I had a serious lag in this but have picked back up. When I say my progesterone levels were fixed, it was almost instantaneous. And along with that I went from struggling to read and relying mostly on light reading, to all of a sudden feeling like I was starving for good literature and deeper reads. I'm really excited to get back to my Year 7 reading soon.

I didn't reach my goodreads goal but read about 62 and I read a lot of good ones. I have also kept up with the Bible Reading Challenge since September and am on track to finish the entire bible by May. If you follow me on Goodreads, I feel like my rating system is wonky. I'm a product of my culture but a student of classic education so I do a hybrid between rating based on my enjoyment and rating based on my good the book truly is in an extrinsic way.  I think I'd recommend anything 4 stars and above and most 3 stars. Because even if I enjoy a twaddley book, I can't rate it higher than 3. And I can't rate a good classic, even one I didn't particularly like/enjoy, less than a 3. So 4s are pretty safe! But here are a few of my favorites from this year

Non-fiction favorites:

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit  by James . A. Smith. - I loved this! I'm not sure I like the subtitle though, not because it's really  wrong but because it makes it seem more like a habit building self-help book. It's all about liturgy and even though I know going in that I loved liturgy, this gave me new ideas to ponder. I think I'll try his Desiring the Kingdom soon. From what it's similarly focused but goes deeper.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family - Not a practical parenting book which is good. I'm kinda over those right now. This is perspective changing and great. Encouraging and edifying.

Different: The Story of an Outside-The-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him - I don't remember which Sally Clarkson book I read first but I remember being underwhelmed and kinda of disappointed. I think it was me. Every other book of her's I've read since has been just what I needed.

Fiction Favorites: (Not counting any repeats which I did quite of a few of this year)

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya

The Baker's Daughter - I read several by D.E. Stevenson books and can't wait to read more.

The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge

Bonus - In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden. I haven't finished it yet but I'm afraid it will get lost in the in between year shuffle. I'm really enjoying it so far.

None of those were my hard classics because while I did enjoy most of those, I preferred good enjoyable cozy books this year.

Health - 

In addition to messing up my hormones, Jude did a number on my body and core and I'm dealing with Diastasic Recti for the first time. Numbers wise it wasn't bad ("just" a two finger gap) but my core was really weak and I was having physial issues because of it. I started the mutu system and am really enjoying moving my body more and have already decreased my back pain significantly. I'm just now getting to the real "exercise" part of it but I've missed being comfortable this past year and am excited to get back to that place. I'm also looking into some different Hashimoto protocols. The issue with me and Hashimotos is that when I'm feeling good, I get complacent and when I have a flare up, I don't have the energy or ability to make any needed changes. Right now, I'm doing really well so now is the time to work on things and get my antibodies lower if possible. Wish me luck!

Elaine recently talked about not just picking a word for the upcoming year but looking back and reflecting. I think my word for 2018 would be survival. I survived a hard hyperemesis pregnancy with a big boy that literally broke my body. I survived post-partum depression even though it felt unending. I survived some other specific and intense craziness that at times brought me to tears. It sounds negative but I really don't mean it that way. I SURVIVED! God brought me to those places and got me through them. Sometimes I felt like I was Moses and Craig and a few close friends were my Aarons and Hurs, lifting my arms up with their prayers. God had given me these tasks to complete but I couldn't have done it without Him and without them. But we did get through it. And I'm so blessed. I really do love my life and all my people and I am excited to see what 2019 brings.


Back to the Classics Challenge Wrap-up

And that's a wrap folks. This year it took me the whole year but I made it and I look back on my selections and know that it was worth it. I didn't get to a Dickens this year but I did conquer an epic poem, a book I'd been meaning to read for quite a while (Giants in the Earth), a russian novel (City Folk and Country folk) and I stepped out of my normal genre with True Grit and lived to tell about it. Not bad considering I had a baby in August and feel a bit sleep deprived the majoirty of my days (and by a bit sleep deprived I mean I just drove 30 minutes into the city to Ikea to buy new book shelves with the gift cards I got for Christmas only to realize I left the gift cards at home!). But I will buy those book shelves eventually and fill them up with all the books and I can't wait for next year to begin the Classics Challenge again! Wanna join in? It's super fun! Go visit Karen at Books and Chocolate to find out more. Sign ups for the 2019 Challenge are starting and you don't want to miss it. 
1.  A 19th century classic - City Folk and Country Folk

2.  A 20th century classic - Howard's End

3.  A classic by a woman authorThe Harvester

4.  A classic in translation.  Giants in the Earth 

5. A children's classic. The House of Arden 

6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction.  The Secret Adversary

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. Kon Tiki

8. A classic with a single-word title. Kidnapped

9. A classic with a color in the title.  The Scarlet Pimpernel

10. A classic by an author that's new to you.  True Grit

11. A classic that scares you. Beowulf.  

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Jane Eyre. 

Email Me at NaethingM@gmail.com if I win please :-)

Classics Challenge: Giants in the Earth

Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag (translated by the author and Lincoln Colcord) has been on my to read list for quite a while. I'm not sure why I never got to it other than to say that it's a book I own in hard copy.  I read much more as e-books that physical books because a large percentage of my reading time is nursing and/or in the dark waiting for babies and toddlers to fall asleep time. And there isn't the time pressure of a library book. So it sat there unread year after year with me always saying "Oh, I need to start that one" but never actually starting it. So I picked it as my end of pregnancy/postpartum baby moon read.

Now, I am glad I read it but I will warn you, it's not a good postpartum read! Especially since I, for the first time, experiences postpartum depression and anxiety. Overall, it's much less tragic that I anticipated, but one prominent story line involves a mother and her emotions and it was just a bad combination. So I had to stop and start this one quite a bit.

But, if you aren't currently postpartum, which is probably most of you, I do recommend it. It's like the grown-up and realistic version of Little House on the Prairie. I don't mean that as a slightly on LHOP, I love that series but the last time or two I read it to my kids and then when we visited all the sights a couple years ago, you start thinking about poor Ma and how she must have felt. beyond just the physical struggles they endured, there are the complexities of community, religion, superstition, and loneliness to battle. Giants in the Earth captures some of that as it gives a poetic but it certainly unglamorized account of the hard life of the Dakota settlers. Having married into a family of sturdy Norwegian immigrants stock, I found this to be greatly interesting but also something I am very glad I did not nor experience. Give me the green forests of the pacific northwest or the Appalachians over the flat prairie any day!

I do want to add that I struggled with the names and keeping straight who was who but I found it to be a bit like the Russian novels I've read. You can get stuck on the first chapter bogged down trying to figure out who is who or you can just keep going without worrying too much about it, as eventually they get straighten out in your mind - at least if the author is doing a good job.

Giants in the Earth is my  Classic in Translation selection in the Back to the Classics challenge.

Classics Challenge: Kidnapped

The very first book I bought my very first child, even before she was born, was a small board book with a selection of poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. We still have it and I love reading it to my babies although I have all of those poems memorized by now - as do most of them. And I'm looking forward to reading the full version with Jonah this spring as he beings Ambleside Online Year 1.

So I'm not sure why I don't enjoy his books quite as much. I didn't dislike Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde but I'm not rushing to re-read it either (although I do think it sadly suffers from such a well known plot. Knowing the outcome before you begin really dampens the shock and excitement of it and being well known isn't really the books fault). So I thought I'd try again with Kidnapped.

Maybe I should have gone with Treasure Island. Whomp Whomp. No, it's wasn't that bad. Kidnapped is just another one that I can't say much negative about - but I also didn't really enjoy. Lucy will read it next year for school and if I had to guess I'd say she'll like it slightly more than me (once she gets into it, she's one of those initial book naysayers at times) and Jonah will love it when he hits year 4. And I am keeping in the kid's curriculum so that is obviously saying something about it. In fact, it might be one I choose to read aloud with them because I do feel like I'm undervaluing it. But I also can't say exactly why that is.

That's vague which is annoying to you all I'm sure. It's a fun story of adventure. A young boy seeking his fortune, facing tough situations. A tale of justice and honor and friendship and hardship and struggle. I enjoyed the descriptions of the Scottish people and land. It does have some difficult dialogue (the scottish accent!) so maybe I'd have enjoyed it more if there was a David Tennant audiobook version although I probably could say that about almost any book. It's a good book just not my cup of tea.

Kidnapped is my Classic with a Single Word Title selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Sign-ups for the 2019 Challenge have begun so now is your time to head over to Books and Chocolate and learn more! 


Classics Challenge - Beowulf

Wrote this way back in March and didn't realize I'd never posted it until I tried to find the link for the Classics Challenge wrap-up. Oops!

I'm pretty sure this is going to be the surprise favorite of 2018. Unless another book also surprises me with it's delightfulness which of course be wonderful. I don't like to think I've hit the high point by March.

Poetry, especially long epic poetry, has not been my strong point. I think I need to stop saying that now because I did really enjoy reading Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (aka updated version of Spenser's Faerie Tales #1) so now that's two in a row. Now, FW&FL was a stretch for me and I did it alongside a reading group which helped with both motivation and understanding. This time I was going it alone and I didn't think the subject appealed to me as much. I just told myself it was broken down into small segments so even if I didn't enjoy it or understand much, I could just take small bites and keep going and be happy getting whatever I got out of it without much expectations. So to say it qualifies for a classic that scared me would be a bit of an understatement.

But then I loved it! I choose the Burton Raffel version based on the recommendation of Angelina Standford and it did not disappoint. I felt it was very easy to understand but still seemed beautiful to me. The first two thirds of the book was the storyline that I was vaguely familiar with but I didn't really know what happened after that and I still enjoyed it and was able to keep up with it once my (very basic, based sadly on this movie) background failed me.

I'm not even really sure why I enjoyed this so much. I've put off this review because I can't seem to find the right words. It was poetic without being flowery. I get annoyed when I feel like its just wasted words (time?). It was fast paced. It's really like three adventures in one, but it isn't disjointed. Beowulf is a hero but not too perfect that you can allow yourself to like and root for him while still feeling like you can doubt some of his thoughts/actions as you think about the scenarios he put himself in. Unlike some of the other adventurous stories that I've read and thought "okay, I can see this really appealing to a middle school boy (cough cough Henty books cough)", I can also say that I can see it appealing to Lucy in a few years and I won't mind re-reading it with her.

And it gives me confidence for my next poetry choices. Up next in my Mason for Me plan is Paradise Lost which I'm fairly confident I can handle and then I think I'll actual break with the AO selections and try Dante's Divine Comedy as its been on my Great Big* tbr pile for several years but I've been too intimidated to actually try it.

*I've got my regular tbr pile of books I want to read in the next year or two and then my GREAT BIG list of books I want to succeed at before I die. Last year's Anna Karenina was on that as well.

Beowulf was my Classic that Scares me for the Back to the Classics Challenge. 

Classics Challenge - City Folk and Country Folk

You might not hear 19th Century Russian Novel and think fun and easy read but City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya was (so keep that in mind if you are participating in the Challenge next year and need a translation selection!). I found it delightful.

It's the story of a country landowner Nastaysa, her daughter Olenka and the summer some city people come and make an impact, most notable their religious spinster of a cousin Anna and the enlightened Erast Sergeyevich, who has come to rest in the country. I loved our two main female characters but all of her characters really just come to life. 

I've heard this novel compared to Jane Austen's works and while it would be well nigh impossible for an Austen work to be ousted as a favorite in my opinion, I do see why people make the comparison. The social commentary and clever wit as well as very memorable people are all reminiscent of Austen's works. I do wish I had a better understanding of the social climate of this book, mainly the releasing of the serfs and the relationships between them and the landowners, because I know that some of the commentary is lost on me without that. I also wish that I had a hard copy as my hoopla version made reading the footnotes difficult and they were prolific and interesting.  My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. This will probably be a book I go back to in the future. 

City Folk and Country Folk is my 19th Century Back to the Classics Challenge selection. 


Jude @ 4 months

A few days late but I made it!

Dear Jude,

These 4 months have just flown by. You're such a big baby now. You rolled over for the first time on Thanksgiving but nobody saw it and several times since I think I've left you on your belly and come back and your on your back but it wasn't until today that Jonah and I actually SAW you roll over from your tummy to back. You're pretty close to getting back to your belly to so I might be talking about that next month.

You love sitting on laps and watching everyone around you.

You love to "talk." We recently went to a interactive puppet and whenever the kids talked back to the puppets, you added in your opinion and all the parents were cracking up.

You love your siblings and they love you! You've started making this bitey smirk smile and I love it. You've lost almost all of your beautiful red hair. Only time will tell if the new stuff comes back red or changes to blonde like all your siblings have.

You got baptized this month and didn't even fuss when they poured water on your head.

 You love to chew fingers. Yours or anyone else's who is close enough for you to grab. It goes straight into your mouth. This actually made taking your 4 month pictures really difficult and we might have to try again tonight.

You still take good naps but the 4 month sleep regression has hit our nights pretty hard. Hopefully that will change by next month too.

No stats until next month but you're overall a really happy guy. You go walking with me almost daily and just sit in your stroller watching the world and smiling at anyone who we pass. But I'm still your favorite person and I hope it stays that way a little bit longer.


Jude @ 3 months

Dear Jude,

You're three months old now and quite the happy little guy. You're super smiley and are starting to giggle and laugh, especially when your siblings talk to you. You love to lay down and watch them playing all around you. I think your my most vocal baby so far. You love to "talk" to us.

You're a great traveler. Before you had even turned 3 months old, you had been to 9 states! You just snug all up with a blankie and your car paci and enjoy the sights until you drift off. I think we really only had 2-3 small bouts of crying during the 26 or so hours we drove. The last 10 minutes of each trip was full out screaming which made everyone glad it was confined to that short time.

Sleeping through the Smoky Mountains

Funny thing about the pacifier though, you won't even consider taking unless you are in the car seat. Swaddled in the swing - what is this piece of plastic? Get it away from me! Half swaddled in the car seat driving down the road - my favorite thing ever. The paci! In the car seat inside with my rocking in with my foot, paci is still good. So it's the car seat itself that seems to tell you its paci time. You don't really need the paci though, you have fingers. You love to suck and chew on your hands. Which is why you probably like being on your back best.

 You're starting to tolerate tummy time more, especially when you have a brother or sister to watch but you still much prefer your back. Although you also really want to roll over from your back to your belly. You can only get about half way before you get stuck but its fun to watch you try...except when you insist on trying during diaper changes and make things difficult there.

Ready for the wedding!

You're pretty social and loved being passed from aunt to cousin to aunt during our most recent wedding events until you needed a nap in the ring sling on mommy. Although I think we might need to shift from ring sling to boba as your getting pretty heavy. You were just shy of 16 lbs at your well baby visit two weeks ago so I'm pretty sure you've passed that now and are in 6-9 month clothes. And the red/strawberry blond hair is sticking around so far although you've got the classic baby bald strip in the back.

You did miss your swing while we were gone though. You take your best naps in the swing and just start smiling and wiggling when I put you down. But while you're a good napper, you're not the best night time sleeper. Not the worst I've had, but not the best either. You probably get up 2-3 times a night on average but it could be more than that.

But you don't really have any witching hour or typical fussy period at all which is kind of amazing. After that first month of crankiness, I guess you got it out of your system. Even your evenings are fine. You often fall asleep around 6:30pm and that might be your bedtime or it might be one last nap until 9ish. Then if you do get up, you eat and lie around next to me in bed while I read then you drift off to sleep by yourself. I'm used to having to work hard to get my littles on to fall asleep in the evenings so as long as you want to keep this up, I won't complain!

You have practically a million nicknames including smoosh, smooshums, bug-a-goo, baby boy, judy-jude, little dude. But whatever we call you, we all love you a lot!


Classics Challenge - The Harvester

I think this is my third Gene Stratton-Porter book. They are a great read when you want something easy and safe and that was just what I needed right now. By safe I mean they are sweet and light and you know that the guy's gonna get the girl or the girl is gonna make it through her fever/trials of high school when her clothes aren't suitable or the mean guy is not going to succeed at whatever evil deeds he's scheming. Sometimes they are almost too sweet, but they aren't twaddle. And sometimes, you just need some sweetness in your life.

The Harvester is about a man who has built up a career around gathering herbs and plants from his property but suddenly finds he needs something (someone ?) else in his life. It was a bit of a slow start for me. But I hung in there for the first quarter and once it picked up, I finished the rest in two days.

Descriptions of nature are one of the things that Gene Stratton-Porter excels at. You just feel like your there - or you want to be. I find myself reading one of her novels and wanting to toss it aside and go for a hike in the woods. But this particular book has a LOT of very lengthy descriptive passages and as someone who considered herself a reformed passage skimmer, it offered too many temptations. I'll admit I skimmed a couple pages here and there. I just couldn't help it. I was too invested in the plot to listen to her woods about the yellow finches meandering flitters through the marsh and the sounds it makes along the way. But they are really amazing descriptions so  I probably should consider my skimming a fault of mine not the author's.

 Also, up until the end, there was one idea about what love is that was driving me crazy.  It felt like it was the writers point of view as well as our heroes and I strongly disagreed with it. So while I wasn't worried about the book overall having a happy ending as I knew it would, I was worried that I'd want to chuck the book at the wall at the end. Now a lot happens in the story and I can't say more without major spoilers but I will say that it resolved well, this issue was resolved and I can recommend the book if you too are in need of a happy go lucky light read with a heavy dose of nature lore.

The Harvester is my  Classic by a Woman Author selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Learn about the Back to the Classic's Challenge over at Books and Chocolate


Norah Jane is Three Years Old

Some birthday pictures... 

Frosting her own cake with the dress she clearly put on herself (backward).

and a letter. 

Dear Norah,

 What a change from last year. You are such a little girl now. A fiery, independent but totally snuggable little girl.

You dressed yourself and pick our a good expression when I asked for a photo :-)

First up, independent. You know what you like and you just make it happen. From what clothes you want to wear to what naptime story I should read you, you have an opinion. For your birthday you wanted a chocolate cake in the shape of a heart. But you wanted to frost it yourself (frosting on the top but not on the sides!) and put the candles in their places as well. The whole week before your birthday you practiced singing the Happy Birthday song and were on the verge of a meltdown when you and Jonah got into an argument about whether someone is allowed to sing their own song. I finally convinced him that you could sing along and you calmed down. 

Three years old is also the big switch from nursery to staying in the service for the first half and then attending children's church with the "big" kids during the sermon (3 yrs old to first grade - in your eyes that includes some pretty big kids!) and I told you about it a few weeks in advance - at which point you were instantaneously done with nursery. It was definitely a "I'm outta here, move me up!" kinda moment. Luckily no one seemed to mind you joining in a bit early. 

You can definitely stand up for yourself with your siblings. And you try your hardest to keep up with their play times too. You're a whiz on a bike or scooter and while you can't climb as high as them in a tree, you do give it a good try and it probably won't be long before your right up there. 

You are quite opinionated about how you want your hair done. A simple request for a ponytail is fine. Demands for a bun like Lucy are a bit harder! But no matter what Lucy or I end up doing to it, you run over, ask for a picture and tell us how cute you look and then within 10 minutes you've taken it out. 

This past year you've swallowed a penny, gotten stuck in a tree, covered in poison ivy and somehow got caught hanging upside down from the side of your bed (that's still had three crib-like sides so when I say stuck upside down, I mean 2 feet up in the air with your foot between the wall and the side. I don't even know how you did that but I got there fast and saved you). You also cut MY hair. I feel pretty proud of myself for keeping you intact this year. I'll try my best this next year as well. We recently listened to a couple Ramona audiobooks and I could see my future ahead of me! 

Covered in Poison Ivy, waiting in the ER for the x-ray results of the penny late on a Saturday night. 

But while you're energetic and curious and a bit of a wild child, you're also my hugger. You love to get and give hugs and kisses and poor Jude is now your most common victim. You call him "Your favorite Jude" or today it was "my Jud-ee" and you tell me you picked him out (hmm, not sure how that would have worked but I'm not gonna argue with you)  and just love to make him smile. Sometimes you cry when he cries and I pick him up because you say you wanted to pick him up. I don't even try to explain that you aren't big enough because that has never been a fruitful conversation, I just distract you by asking you to pick our his outfit or fetch me a diaper. You are an excellent helper with him. You announce (loudly) when he starts to wake up "He's opening his eyes! He's awake"...sometimes I'm not sure if he was before you yell but he certainly is afterwards. You also like to cheer him on when he poops. It guess it's nice that someone is so thrilled about poopy diapers as the thrill has kinda worn off for me. 

I knew you'd love him though. You're such a little mama. You have 6 dolls that you tend to regularly, all with very descriptive names like Girl doll and Boy doll and Baby doll and Yellow doll (it's blonde) and brown doll (it's a brunette, otherwise a match with yellow). Only one doll has a name and its our little African American doll and she's got the same name as the foster girl we had so she's special. But you tuck them in your bed or push them around in your cart and I love it all. Sometimes you try to fall asleep and there really isn't room for you in bed with the dolls and a few stuffed animals thrown in for good measure. 

You love Lucy and Jonah too and I have really enjoyed watching each of those relationships blossom this year as you've grown up. Just today you and Jonah spent over an hour setting up a big road of books and building cars together. You also love to play games like sneaky snacky squirrel with him. Lucy is your go to when my hands are full and you know she can always be counted on for when you need someone to spin you around or read you a book. And the worst possible thing that could happen to you is being left behind or not being able to do something they can. 

Happiest in the middle of it all!

You make as all laugh and have discovered that trick and have started to become a real clown. You call yourself a "silly sister" and sometimes we don't know why we are laughing but it's a genuine laugh for sure. 

I still probably think of you as littler than you are and you keep amazing me with the things you know that I haven't ever taught you. Like your numbers or letters. And you're so confident. Sometimes you're so confidently wrong but that's pretty fun too. Lucy knows just to smile at your attempts to read to yourself or count past 15 but Jonah likes to inform you of your mistakes - but you just take that at all.  You came up to me a few days ago with a book and this sad look on your face saying "I just can't read this book. It's too hard" and the week before that you asked me how to spell monkey. I get asked to spell things a lot so without evening thinking I start off "M..." and you say "But I don't know how to write!" and when I try to fix it by suggesting you just draw a picture of a monkey you say "No, that's too hard too. I can only draw circles and lines" so in the end Lucy drew you a picture of a monkey. It was so funny but we both had to keep our faces flat because your heartache was so real.

This week when I asked you if you wanted to start doing some "school" with me you said "Oh yes, when I'm older I will do school" but I clarified that I meant now you got so excited. "Now, let's go!" and we ran off to do very academic things like sew a fall banner and read about apples, wash some and make fresh apple juice and you just had a blast this week. So your officially not just a trouble maker but a real preschooler now. I think your going to enjoy yourself.

Perhaps you like having Jude around because it means you aren't the littlest. 

A conversation from yesterday:

Norah: I can do lots of things. Jude's just a baby. He can't do anything but drink milk.

Jonah: Yes he can. He can smile and.... and blink!

Norah: rolls eyes clearly indicating that she can do more than blink. I wish I had a video tape of that face.

But yes, Norah, you can do more than blink! It's hard to be smaller but your impact on our family is much bigger than your physical size. It just wouldn't be the same without you. But I'll always think of you as my baby girl. 

Oh, one more fun thing about you - you like to speak in complete sentences as you might notice from the answers below. Almost anytime we ask you  a question you respond with the full reply. "Did you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?" doesn't get a yes or no but a "I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

Norah's Birthday Interview:

What is your favorite color? Purple (Normally she says Violet so Jonah askes her if she really means Violet. No, Purple she replies)

What is your favorite toy? I like my puppy toys.

What is your favorite game? I like Hoot Owl Hoot.

What is your favorite song? I like the Happy Birthday Song. 

What is your favorite animal? I like a pig. 

What is your favorite book? I like a Bible.

What do you like to snuggle with at night? I like a snuggle with a baby doll. 

What is your favorite movie? I like Winnie the Pooh.

What is your favorite thing to eat? I like eggs.

Where is your favorite place to go? I like Mastadon (our local state park)

What is your favorite outfit?I like my big sister shirt. 

What do you like to learn about? I like to learn about more God things. 

What have you learned in the last year? I don't know. 

What is hard for you? A tricky things are hard for me.  

What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Hug the baby. That's a family. I like a go to (our local state park). 

What do you like about Mommy? I like to hug and kiss you. 

What do you like about Daddy? I like to kiss daddy when he comes home. I like his hugs and kisses. I am upside down.  (Not sure where she was going with that upside thing)

What do you like about Lucy?  I like about Lucy, kissing Lucy. I like that she snuggles with me.

What do you like about Jonah? I like to kiss Jonah. (He runs over and kisses her). I like to light saber with him. 

What do you yourself? I like when I'm silly. Like I like to kiss myself (kisses her hand) and laughs. 

What do you like about Jude? I like to kiss Jude. He's little. I like when he smiles. 


Mason for Me - Fall (aka brutally honest) Edition

I'm including my own personal update in with this post instead of separately because it's not got a lot in it. My brain slowly faded and faded over the end of my pregnancy. By my last month or two I was barely even reading at all let alone adding to my commonplace book or reviewing my Latin flashcards. I was so tired (measuring 4-5 weeks ahead hugely pregnant, hot and anemic is not an energetic combo!) and my brain just wasn't working. Listening to Brandi Vencel talk about her anemia on a podcast reminded me that it was probably mostly the anemia and that would go away did help because I was feeling pretty defeated with even what I thought were low key goals.

So I re-evaluated. I picked up super light books and tried to read for 10 minutes a day. By super light I mean, barely above twaddle level novels or re-read old favorites that I know so well by know that I can pretty much pick the book up at any spot and read a page or two. Anything I could just to keep the habit of picking up a book instead of turning on netflix at naptime. Even if I did end up falling asleep 10 minutes 2 minutes in.

And I don't talk much about bible reading here because I assume that any of you Christian homeschooling parents out there already realize the vital need for Bible reading apart from Mother Culture, but I do consider to be one of the most important forms of Mother Culture. Let's not be planning elaborate self-education plans to read through the classics if you aren't at least reading your Bible daily. First things first. And this needed to be addresses in my life. We were going through the Psalms in church so I defaulted to that. I started at Psalm 1 and read one a day. I normally like to get out a physical bible instead of relying on my phone but that rarely happened. And sometimes, I even let the ESV website read the Psalm to me. Then I wrote down my favorite verse and tried to pray that - either as a request or a thanksgiving or praise and keep thinking over it throughout the day. Now, just like poetry hasn't always been my favorite form of literature, Psalms haven't been my go-to part of the Bible. But having pushed myself in the area of poetry, I can see pay-off when it comes to the Psalms. I was actually enjoying them!

I've often heard people encourage moms to give themselves grace when it comes to their Bible reading and prayer time when they are deep in the little people stage of life. And yes, there are times and places for elaborate Bible studies and Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and there are times when those aren't the right choice. But you have to be careful because too often it comes out sounding like "don't worry about making that a priority."

To me, not making God and his words a priority is not "giving myself grace." Choosing to do what I can, even when it is just a little, is giving myself grace. Or actually, it's letting God give me grace.  I came to him saying "This is it, God. This is all the time/energy/brain power I have right now in the circumstances you have put me in so please use it to grow me."  And he does. Which is good because I don't know how I'd deal with all the ups and downs of this stage without having His words flowing through my mind. I'm trying, not just keep my children alive until adulthood, but to have them actually turn out to be virtuous, God-fearing men and women by then - that's not an easy task! I need God!

And to a lesser degree, that can mostly apply to my desire for Mother Culture as a whole. I need the
quality ideas running through my brain to give me something to ponder at 2am when Jude decides he has slept enough or when my brain feels like it will explode if have to answer another question about Star Wars (especially since they all end with "I'm actually not really sure what that particular robot/droid/guy in a suit is called")

I'm 9 weeks post-partum right now and Jude is, for the time being at least, a good sleeper and a decent napper, but my hormones are giving me quite a bit of emotional trouble this time around. I'm starting to come out of the fog but its slow going. I am getting there though.  I want to read more, I want to get back into really studying things, I want to clean the dust bunnies on my ceiling fans that I've been looking at the for the last 2 months but physically unable to fix (oh wait, different topic).

I've started my slightly more intense Bible reading plan, am actually making progress in books, and finished two (You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith and The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter both of which I'd recommend. Not too difficult but full of ideas to get your brain going) and I've finally started Giants in the Earth which has been on my to-be-read pile for several years so just starting it and going slowly feels like a big accomplishment. I know I'll be able to bring out my big Mason for Me plan from earlier soon  and I'll keep trucking along. But either way, God is good...and so are books :-)

Now, onto the link-ups. How are you going with your plans? Soaring with the energy of a new school year and a mug full of newly sharpened pencils? Or plodding along? Either way, we'd all love to hear about it!