Monday, March 14, 2016

I am not a blogger

Catch as catch can.  That's how I would describe my "course of study" for the past several years: a book about this, a handful of articles about that, three books on subjects X, Y, and Z.  My belly is full of information, random facts swirling and drifting aimlessly.

Broad but shallow.

Don't get me wrong, sampling has its purposes, its seasons.  But now, I don't need broad and shallow; I need narrow and deep, like a well, like diving deep deep deep into a well.  Water that is as fresh and new as possible, metallic on the tongue, nearly dripping with iron and minerals.

I'm going back to the well, hopefully with something to say when I come back up for air.  It won't be a blog; I've realized I just don't have the makeup for it--which is okay, good even.  But I will have something to say, and hopefully it is just as refreshing to others as it is to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I've Been Reading :: Late Summer 2015

I feel like I read more than this...didn't I get through more books than this in the last few months?  Didn't I always have something sitting on my side of the bed waiting for me?  Well, fall is (not quite officially) here, and I'm ready to reinvest in more book time--and keeping better track of it!  Here's what I got through since July-ish...

I Know How She Does It :: Laura Vanderkam

I am really interested in Ms. Vanderkam's work, but since her advice is for the $100k+ crowd it is sometimes hard for the common layperson to put into practice (I don't have the funds for a cleaning lady, child care, flexible scheduling...).  It's probably just me, but it then sometimes comes off as grating.  That said, I loved the ideas of the time mosaic (fitting the tiles of your life/schedule in such a way to accomplish everything), that certain tasks (like cleaning) expand to the time you allow them, and that you really can claim time for things you care about--just by being brave enough to do them.

Hand to Mouth :: Linda Tirado

First-hand look at life on the edge between having enough and not.  Justified and well-written (only a little rant-y) and definitely made me put on a brighter face for service workers.

To Kill a Mockingbird :: Harper Lee

I finished this novel-of-the-semester for tenth grade in one weekend (my teacher wasn't sure what to do with me after that...).  Why, oh why, did I wait over ten years to reread it?!

Go Set a Watchman :: Harper Lee

There was a lot of buzz that quickly fizzled when this came out.  Maybe it should have never seen the light of day, but I'm glad it did.  Despite all the polishing it needed, the story of one's childhood hero crashing into mortality is...heartbreaking and bolstering all at once.  I'm so glad that her editor sent her back to write TKM, but I wish that Miss Lee would have been able to develop this one into a real gem, too.

More than Happy: the Wisdom of Amish Parenting :: Serena Miller

It's been several years since I've read an Amish novel, but I very much enjoyed this author's nonfiction look at how the Amish parent their children.  I was surprised (and happy!) at how similar my own parenting is; I guess the major difference comes down to how you interpret and where you draw the line with "be in the world but not of it."  Good read.

Winnie-the-Pooh :: A.A. Milne

I read Pookie this one when she was just two...needless to say, she enjoyed it much more this time around.  And when we read it again down the road when Champ is bigger, I'm sure she (and Zaboo) will enjoy it all the more. :)

{Linked up to Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit}

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What I've Been Reading :: July 2015

Things are getting back to normal: my body (slowly, slowly...), my hair (shedding like a dog), my sleep (Champ wakes up just at 3, sometimes not until 4), and even my ability to fit some reading into my day.  Here's what I've been up to...


Better Than Before :: Rubin

I loved The Happiness Project, but this one was even better!  Without being prescriptive, Rubin discusses psychology, studies, and anecdotes about habits in a way that starts the wheels turning about the reader's own life.  Had to return it to the library, but I'll be checking it out again!

Why We Get Fat :: Taubes

This one was mentioned in Better Than Before, and I was intrigued by the premise.  It flips the current "avoid fat" notion in nutrition science on its head.  Not a new idea to me, but it's fleshed out with science and anecdotes that gave me a clearer picture (and a greater excuse to grab the butter!).

Didn't Get to Finish:

American Wasteland :: Bloom

I have been convicted from time to time of just how much stuff we throw away.  Reading this book (again, had to return before I was finished) opened my eyes to the sheer amount of waste that goes on at all points on the consumer chain...and when I check it out again, I'm looking forward to the section about what I can do differently to address the issue.
Free to Learn :: Gray

What do kids need to learn?  Free play.  Outside play.  To not have tests all the time.  Lines up well (though not perfectly) with what I think about education.  Excited to check it back out and finish it.


The Fringe Hours :: Turner

I love the premise here: how to get more of what you want and love to do into your life and days...but I just couldn't get into it.

On My Nightstand: In My Suitcase:


I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.  What have you been reading?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Finding Worth


Life has been good in Little Rock.  The girls play together extraordinarily well (mostly), we live in a safe and beautiful neighborhood, we've found a good church, I have friends from the park and MOPS, Professor is plugging away at his research, Champ is growing well, I'm bringing in a nice chunk of change each month for our savings account...

Until I'm not.

Hi Reviewers,
As you know, we have fewer answers available recently than we have in the past. I’ve received a lot of questions about this...
While we are decreasing the number of answers we produce for the time being, the project is not ending any time soon. We will continue producing answers for the foreseeable future.
However, we will continue to have fewer answers available for review each week than we have in the past...It is possible we will increase production again at some point in the future, but to the best our knowledge, we will be maintaining a lower answer inventory for the next several months at least.

This should not have shaken me; God has always provided for us--even in that year our income was lower than the standard deduction.  (In case you're curious, when that happens, they take pity on you and give you your tax money back with a "Better luck next time!" card.  Or maybe without the card; it's hard to remember.)

But still, I found myself panicking.  And worrying.  And plotting.  And assuming every moment of silent from my pretty-introverted-and-quiet husband was borne out of disappointment.  "Who am I and how am I contributing to this family if I can't even save the money we need for a minivan?"

And I felt that tap-tap of the Spirit on my shoulder.  What is your identity?  Who is it in?  Sigh.  My identity is not in my ability to edit web content and add to the family coffers, though that is part of who I am.  

My identity used to be my problem, but when I cast my lot with Jesus, it became His.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3 (emphasis mine)

I cannot serve God and money.  I can continue to pursue the projects He has put before me, but there is a lot on my plate with no financial incentives: three children to raise in the faith, a husband to love and serve beside, new friends to fellowship with and love on, family back home to encourage.  I have value beyond my paycheck and in ways that will last beyond a vehicle or anything else that can be purchased.

And do you know what happened not five minutes after I stopped worrying (or at least took a break) and prayed instead?  I received a work offer from a former client.  Sure, it was only a quick, $5 job, but it was still a reminder that God provides the work--not me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quick Lit :: April 2015

I can't believe I haven't shared what I've read all year.  More than that, I can't believe I've only read this small number of books.  Hopefully the summer months will be kinder to my reading time!
{Want to see what others have been reading?  Check out the link-up at Modern Mrs. Darcy!}

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up :: Marie Kondo
A quick treatise on how to pare down rapidly to avoid further re-organization forever.  Sounds good in theory, but this lady obviously has no kids.  Also, I do not thank my socks and am not inclined to start.  But I was motivated to clean out my desk, so that's something.

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education :: Leigh A. Bortins
Not much new information to me, but for somebody looking for an accessible rundown of classical education and what it entails, this is a great place to start, though Well-Trained Mind will forever and always be my go-to.

The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More :: Barry Schultz
There are lots of numbers, studies, facts, and figures in this book...but the nuggets about how decision-making affects us were enlightening and, quite frankly, relieving.  I feel better and better about the choices I put on autopilot since reading this book.

Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart :: Lisa Rogak
Interesting look at the man behind the desk of The Daily Show (for a little while longer, anyway).  Didn't love everything I learned about Stewart, but everybody is human, and there were enough funny things to at least even it out.  Looking forward to picking up her bio on Colbert.

Lessons from Madame Chic :: Jennifer Scott
Who doesn't love a little French advice?  Scott describes her fabulous French host during a study abroad program and discusses how she has incorporated some of her best practices in her own life.  Fun, quick read with a bit of food for thought.  Enjoyed it so much, I read her other book...

At Home With Madame Chic :: Jennifer Scott
Very similar in tone and tenor to the previous but with an emphasis on living well at home.  With three littles under five, it was a good reminder for me to enjoy baking and lighting candles and--as best as I can--even doing the dishes.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains :: Nicholas Carr
Technically I haven't finished this one yet, but I am really enjoying learning about how our brains respond to all the skimming, switching, and tabbing that the Internet brings us.  It makes me want to subscribe to the newspaper and read more print...

Professor had a birthday at the end of March, and he made out like a bandit in the book department, which means I did, too!  Here's a peak at what's on our bookshelf, just waiting to be devoured (the last one is mine, not his):

What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On self-medication vs. self-care {and a baby!}

It took having my third child to finally stare a truth in the face: the ways in which I "care" for myself, those pockets of time and attention I give to my own desires, are really just self-medication.

Facebook.  YouTube.  Blogs.  Junk food and diet soda.  These top the list for me...actually, they are the list.

Wait, what's that you say?  Back up to the baby part?  Gladly!

Our little mister came into the world January 16, in the middle of the afternoon--a new and delightful development for the Professor and me after two early morning deliveries (preceded by long, day-and-night labors).  In all, it took about twelve hours and, despite some grumblings of "I'm so stupid; I should have gotten the epidural," all went very well.

I'm not quite sure what he'll be known as here, though I'm leaning toward Bubby.  He's a beautiful creature to behold, with all manner of dark hair and lashes, long fingers and toes, and a lower lip that sucks way in, a trait from his Papa's side.

Anyway, back to self-care.

An interesting thing happened during labor: I slept through a good chunk at the end.  I was getting desperate and the nurse offered Fentanol.  It made me loopy in the past, so I was hesitant, but when she offered to give me half a dose, I jumped on it.  The greatest consequence?  It put me to sleep between contractions.

It felt like I slept in twenty minute chunks, maybe more.  Professor later told me that I slept for about 90 seconds, labored for 90, lather, rinse, repeat.  Those 90 seconds of rest were exactly what my body needed.  When the overly-fresh-faced doc came in to deliver the baby, she barely had time to get her gloves on before Bubby made his grand entrance.  I was ready because I was rested.

At home, I don't have a nurse waiting with half a dose of Fentanol.  I can't take naps (but if I could go back and tell myself two kids and no at-home job self to sleep more, I would).  But I can choose to care for myself, choosing what I need (like the Fentanol) over what I want (an entirely unmedicated birth).

I go for a walk before Professor leaves for work in the morning whenever the weather allows.  I fall asleep on the couch for a few hours in the evening instead of endlessly and mindlessly surfing the web.  I tweaked my work hours and work load so that I feel less guilty and stressed, even if it slightly dropped my income.  If the kids are playing well, I open my Bible or a book or take a much coveted shower.

I am very much imperfect.  I hit the chocolate pretty hard today and have managed to plow through two and a half seasons of the Great British Bakeoff (have you seen that business? completely addicting, also I make scones now...) in a pretty short span of time.  This blog post has been in draft mode since January and I haven't posted a single thing this year because I still struggle to prioritize my time online.  This post isn't polished like I want it to be, but at some point, you just have to get back in the pool, even if you flail a bit.  I am a work in progress.

Breaking away from the self-inflicted numbing agents is such a freeing feeling, and my days feel less monotonous and tiring...even though I have three children under five and spend more time than ever on mundane things like laundry and potty training (pray for us, by the by...).  Self-medicating might have felt good in the moment, but self-care feels good all the day long.  I'll take it.

And I promise I'll try to get back to being funny next time. Trust me, these hooligans have been bringing the funny lately and they are ready to share.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick Lit :: December 2014

Well, Twitterature as a name has gone the way of MySpace.  What?  MySpace is still around?  Well, there goes my analogy...

Anyway, the name has changed, but Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy is still hosting a link-up for short, snappy book reviews.  Here's what I've been reading...


The Nesting Place :: Myquillyn Smith

Beautiful throughout--and not just the pictures, though they're reason enough for paging through this design tome.  Mid-read I took the plunge with a thrift store run and a bit of sewing to create some throw pillows that we already love.  A good kick in the pants to prioritize loving the space you have.

The People of Sparks :: Jeanne DuPrau

Follow-up title to The City of Ember was very good.  What happens when a city of people who have dwelt underground for 200 years emerge and descend, mostly helpless and clueless, on a people group who have built a community after an apocalyptic sort of disaster?  This book is what happens.

Compact Living :: Michael Guerra

I grabbed this self-published-looking title from a library display rack.  It wasn't stellar, and it wasn't tremendously applicable to my situation, but I swoon over the thought of small spaces and tiny houses enough that I skimmed it pretty hard.  Definitely got Professor and I talking about convertible furniture and using space well, so it was worth the time reading.

Smart Money, Smart Kids :: Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

Seasoned advice (and heartwarming stories from their own lives together) for all ages and stages of raising money-smart kids.  A lot of stuff I already knew, but there was enough new and motivating material that this book will eventually have to find its way onto my bookshelf for future reference.  Recommended for anybody with kids!

Food: A Love Story :: Jim Gaffigan

I laughed.  I cried.  I laughed until I cried.  And then I ate Hot Pockets.  Amen.  (Seriously, if you need a laugh and prefer your comedy be pretty clean, this is the guy for you, and his latest doesn't disappoint.)

I'd love to hear about what's on your nightstand!

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