Friday, August 31, 2012

What I Read In August

Audio:

1.  The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck - I hadn't read it since high school, and had honestly forgotten what a beautiful book it is.  The fact that I'm a farmer's child who truly understands the value of the land made the read that much sweeter.

2.  The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton - And I hadn't read this one since college.  It was like a reunion with a long-lost friend.  Of course, the movie version with Daniel Day Louis is also one of my most familiar movies - I saw it in the theater three times (unheard of for me) and it was one of the first VHS tapes I bought - so I know the story extremely well.  Knowing it so well, though, I was still surprised with details I had forgotten.  So much fun!  And soooo emotional.  I can't believe how upset I still get over this book. 

Print:

Ahem.  Apparently I wasn't done with Jamie and Clair after all.

Diana Gabaldon's
1.  Drums of Autumn,
2.  The Fiery Cross
3.  A Breath of Snow and Ashes
4.  An Echo in the Bone

Some notes about my Outlander experience. 
  1. It's been a long while since I found a series that engrossed me as completely as this one did.  Typically quality falls off and I get bored or annoyed.  (see Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind.)  While some books are absolutely better than others, Gabaldon has managed to maintain the overall quality throughout....and I quite literally could not put them down.  Bravo. 
  2. That's roughly 5,350 pages of reading....in one month.  That tells you just how obsessed I was, just how compelling of a read they were, and just how bad my eyes are right now!
  3. OK, so I'm a schmuck for books with solid relationships in them.  Can't help it. 
  4. Also happen to really be into history...
  5. And here is where I feel a need to write a defense of 'popular' literature as compared with 'literary' works.  I will save you the lecture, except to say that there is value in all...but when it comes right down to it I have to admit I prefer books that are fun and suck me in as completely as these did....so long as they are also well written.
  6. The next book won't be coming out until next fall, so I can now move on to something else. 
Hmm...one last book note for today.  I find myself eagerly awaiting Justin Cronin's The Twelve with an excitement almost never felt before for upcoming releases.  I've preordered, and I may have to drop everything as soon as it arrives.  However, it's also been announced that it's the second in what's now going to be a trilogy....and waiting for the third might kill me. 

I'm also happy to report that there is a second book about our wee September from The Girl Who Navigated Fairyland...also coming out this fall!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Erin

Happy Birthday to the very best brother in the entire world!




Saturday, August 25, 2012

Defeated

 In the matter of Kristin V. the Squirrels, 2012...
I have officially lost.
 
I gave up when I caught a squirrel sitting in the top of the pot, happily munching away on one of my beautiful hens n'chicks.
 
I think I will pot the few survivors indoors.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Notes From A Friday

I have a storage issue with my computer....problem being that I MUST delete old photos because they are truly overwhelming my hard drive.  Yes, they are backed up in two other places.  Yes, I'm totally paranoid about loosing them anyway.  Wouldn't you be with such gems like this?!
 
Wonder what they are talking about.....
  • First, a heartfelt thank you to all of you who took the time to write to me and offer your support and encouragement after my last post.  I received more feedback from that post than from anything else I've ever shared on the blog - and all of it came from a kind, loving, generous spirit.  Thank You!
  • I don't really have any follow-up other than to say that I begin my official duties as the Friday Folder lady for Tanith's classroom today and am looking forward to helping her teacher - who is quite possible the most wonderful first grade teacher in the world.
  • Also, I decided to give myself a break and have been enjoying a week of relaxing and letting go.  It's been nice, but I'm ready to get back to the business of living and growing.
  •  
  • I wish I had accomplished many, many wonderful, creative, crafty things in the last week....but alas, that is not so.
  • I have been working on my shawl, and it has hit the point where I HAVE to finish it asap so that I can move on. 
  • It has proven to be one of those projects which eats up a surprising amount of time. 
  • Also, I have done a tiny bit of spinning.  With the return of the cooler mornings, the wheel is back out on the deck with me. 
  • It would be perfect if I couldn't hear the highway.
  • And really.....that's all of the crafting I've done in the last week or so.
  • Um, I have done some Christmas planning...but it's not gone beyond the planning stage yet.
  •  
  • So let's talk about something else!
  •  
  • I am counting down the days until my podiatry follow-up next Tuesday with eager anticipation!  While I didn't end up taking the full course of the NSAIDS (They totally wrecked my gut.) the rest seems to have done it's trick.
  • And I am sooooo ready to start walking and/or running again! 
  • I went on a wee walk with a friend over the weekend - just around the corner to visit some other friends - and it was enough to make me realize how out of shape I've become from just one month of inactivity. 
  • I don't like that at all.  I'm not used to feeling so weak!
  •  
  • I'm a little bit more than half way through a 21 day sugar detox.  It had become apparent that my diet had become a lot sloppier than I realized (Honesty - my attempt at a Whole 30 didn't stick.) and so I decided to get down to brass tacks.
  • After all, I've spent two years playing with my allergy diet and/or paleo...but I've never managed to fully integrate it so that I saw the type of results I knew were possible. 
  • After reviewing several options, I knew that I had to face the sugar bug first.
  • The 21 Day Sugar Detox I'm following is very strict - not only am I avoiding all sugars and sweeteners, but I'm also not eating fruit of any kind right now. 
  • And it's amazing!  I can tell a huge difference already....I feel slimmer (still not weighing, I was serious about that!), and my face is clearing up (see below also).  The headaches which had started to creep back in are gone....so many good things!
  • The next step?  Once I have the sugar bug fully defeated I'm going to be experimenting with an autoimmune protocal for the Paleo Diet.  Everything I've learned in the last few years is pointing me in that direction, and it's worth a try.  You can learn more about the Autoimmune protocol in Practical Paleo or at the Paleo Mom.
  • I also decided to experiment with homemade bone broth during my detox, and I now drink a cup of the stuff every single morning. 
  • LOTS of people in the Paleo world make and drink their own bone broths as they are loaded with all sorts of healthy goodness that you just can't get elsewhere or are better/easier to absorb in a food form.
  • I didn't add any veggies or anything to my first batch, wanting to taste it in its most basic form. 
  • Next time I'll add stuff.
  • Oh, and the one thing I've learned for sure - poor sleep is my Achilles heel.  I had one extremely bad night, and it just about derailed everything. 
  •  
  • Because the food stuff just isn't crazy enough, I've also started using the Oil Cleansing Method to wash my face.  It sounds counter intuitive, but my oh my does my skin ever LOVE it. 
  • My own blend uses two parts of jojoba and one part caster oil - although the next time I'll probably reduce the amount of caster oil in my mixture. I do it just about every night before bed, and in a relatively short amount of time my skin has improved dramatically.
  • And yes, I know full well the anti-inflammatory diet and bone broth are contributing!
  • I'm not a vain woman, but I have to admit I'm very, very pleased with this turn of events. 
  • And by the way....my girls, who've been eating mostly paleo at home this summer , both broke out after a week of the food my parents served them.  Two weeks back on track, and their faces are once again clear and smooth.
  •  
  • Sorry for the super-long post.  It's just been a while, and apparently I had a lot to say!  Hopefully I will be back to regular posting in the coming week.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Next Steps


This is the post where I pour out what's in my heart.

Nine and a half years ago I quit my job as a fundraiser/grant writer to become a stay at home mom.  As my husband said recently I left, "to do something more important," knowing that it was the right decision for our family.

I will not bore you with the entire back story behind that decision.  I will say, though, that when it came right down to it I had been unhappy with my position for quite some time, and my nonprofit salary would barely have covered child care and the various expenses associated with working. 

Besides....I was walking towards the dream of motherhood that I'd had since I was a little girl.  It was honestly the only thing I'd ever truly wanted for myself, and I knew from the bottom of my heart that if I was to be the type of mother I wanted to be I couldn't divide myself from my children in any way.  The fact that my children are turning out to be exactly the type of people I'd hoped they would be has served as a confirmation that I made the right choice.

As an interesting aside, I recently discovered a journal entry that I wrote in high school which detailed exactly what I wanted from the future....and was shocked to discover that I have achieved (for the most part) my dreams, modest though many people would think them to be.  Such a discovery does tend to shift one's perspective a bit.

Our decision was not without heartache and sacrifice.  Financially, our road has been very difficult, and we've often felt the strain.  It flat out sucks that we can't provide our children with the things we want to give them.....regular vacations, dance or gymnastics lessons, etc.  We are blessed to have supportive families who've helped out with many of the extras, but there is a bit of a blow to the ego in accepting that help.

And I'm just going to be honest.  For all that the feminist movement was supposed to give us choice, those of us who chose the 'traditional' route get a lot of crap for having made that decision.  There have been gatherings where I've received a pat on the head for doing what's 'best' and then the person has turned to a relative or a friend who's managing a huge career and children with a level of respect and attention that wasn't afforded me.  Someone in a knitting forum once told me I was a drain on society because I wasn't contributing.  The ridiculous media-fueled "Mommy Wars" haven't helped either as they've engendered many false assumptions about motherhood in general.

I digress.

The point is that I'm now at a crossroad.

Years ago Sean and I made an agreement.  I would stay home until our girls both were in school, and then I would go back to work.  After all, with them gone for most of the day there was no need for me to sit around the house twiddling my thumbs, and we do need the money!

If only it were that simple.

You see, I never truly figured out what I wanted to do 'when I grow up.'  The decision would be oh so much easier if I had a clue, and I truly envy my girlfriends who have careers that fulfill them.  I've had a knot in my stomach since high school about the whole mess....a knot that has only gotten bigger over time.  I feel a total failure because I've not figured it out - and because I haven't fulfilled the intellectual promise I showed in school.  Yes, I understand - thanks in no small part to a very wise therapist I had a few years ago - that years of crazy expectations and family prejudices were at so great a conflict with my personality and natural inclinations that I fell into a swirl of chaotic confusion and fear from which I've yet to fully escape.  The problem was further compounded by my health, which I've discussed in great detail over the last few years.  Understanding why I am the way I am, though, doesn't make it any easier to live with.

I do know two things.  One, I have to figure something out that will still allow me to be logistically and emotionally present for my children.  Two, I refuse to settle for just anything because I know an unhappy, drained Kristin is very bad for our family.
  
And right now, that's about all I've got.

After a long talk with Sean, I have a plan for the immediate future  After all, I do have a lot of hours to fill each day. 

For starters, I'm going to finally sign up for the PTSO and will be volunteering in the girls' classrooms.  They are both delighted with the fact that Mommy will be able to help out with class parties and field trips this year.  I think it will be good for us.

We've also a plan to make all of our Christmas gifts this year from materials already at hand...which mostly falls on my shoulders.  (It's going to be interesting trying to maintain what was supposed to be a 'craft' blog for the next few months without spilling the beans on some of those gifts.)  There will be quite a time commitment, but ultimately it will save us a lot of money this year.  Besides, hand made gifts are the best!

Finally, there are many long-neglected organizational projects in our home that need serious attention.  (Um, I haven't touched any of the photos since our marriage.....)  I feel very strongly that in order to move on I need to have our home put in order, as the weight of those projects has been heavy on my shoulders for quite some time.

But obviously these are all finite projects, and further plans will need to be made.

Honesty, again.

I don't know what's going to happen.

I don't know where my life is going.

I do know that I need to banish the fear and confusion for once and for all, and that's still going to take some work.
 
I do know that there is more out there for me if I could just stop worrying so much and embrace the adventure that life can truly be.

I also know that I am very blessed to have a husband who understands how difficult this all is for me, and who is giving me the time and support I need to make the big decisions.

Slow and timid as they may (or may not) be...it is truly time for those next steps.

Time Flies

 And Surprise!  She's a Fourth Grader.
 While this one is a First Grader!
 And both were so excited about going back to school today that they practically ran out the door.
We are once again blessed with fabulous teachers, and I know it's going to be a great year!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Comfortable


My favorite skirt and my beloved Birks.
They are both - quite sadly - to be retired at the end of the season.

And really, there isn't much of a point to this post...except for the fact that I like this picture and wanted to share it with you all.  After all, it does say rather a lot about me.




Friday, August 3, 2012

Putting Me To Shame


I taught Gillian how to knit when she was 5.
 And this summer she's kicked it into high gear.
 It took her about a week to make her fingerless gloves.  (Mom did the short row thumbs, she did everything else!)  They match a shawl I made for her a while back.
 And once those were done she went crazy.
 I mean....REALLY crazy.  She's for sure her mother's child!
 This scarf is to be a gift for her cousin...and is made FROM HER OWN HANDSPUN!
 She also made a scarf for her sister.
 Last weekend she surprised me by pulling out an old kids' knitting book, using to teach herself how to cast on and do both increases and decreases.  She subsequently made two doll shawls.
 Then last night she pulled out SOME MORE OF HER OWN HANDSPUN!!!!! (I knew buying her a wheel of her own for her 8th birthday was a good idea!) which she used to make a hat.
 I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of her!
Yes, she is absolutely her mother's child.

Now I just need to go help her find her next project.....