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.