Fall Toddler Crafts

October 18, 2014 by

The weather is consistently staying cooler not hot. We even had all the windows and doors open for most of this week. I think it’s almost safe to say, it is fall! Knock on wood. I posted before about some of the decorations we’ve put up around the house to celebrate. These were things I made very quickly and very cheaply just to have some fall color around the house.

There is another way we mark the seasons now, and that is our gallery wall in the dining room. Really it’s just an ugly blank wall that we’ve done nothing with in the nearly 3 years we’ve been here. One day I started sticking the kids’ art projects up there and just like that, we have a new tradition. We’ve begun our fall wall. It’s still a work in progress, but I wanted to show off what we’ve done so far.

Fall Tree

This was the first thing we did. I’ve been getting bolder in “designing” these walls. I thought putting up a tree would give us a lot of chances to add to it in the style of woodland creatures.

I found a roll of brown package paper at the dollar store. This turned out to be the easiest way to make the trunk rather than construction paper, poster board or anything that required painting. I taped up one long strip the height of the trunk I wanted. I then came back and cut slight curves on either side to make it look like a trunk and not just a piece of paper taped to the wall. We used some of the scraps to make branches.

I’m not crazy about the leaves, but they will do. I took pieces of red, orange and yellow construction paper and cut out random leaf shapes. Then Evie helped me tape them up. I had a pack of foam cut out leaves from the dollar store, so we filled in some with those. I feel like it could be fuller, but frankly, I don’t want to cut out more leaves, So it is what it is!

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The first thing we added to our tree was bird nests. I took a small paper plate and cut it in half. Each girl colored their “nest” and glued on small twigs we found in the yard. I cut out little bubble bird bodies and the girls glued on googley eyes and the feathers. Once everything was attached and dry, we picked branches for them to rest.

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This is my favorite! I may leave it up somewhere in the house after fall ends. At first I was going to do each of the kids’ foot prints on a separate canvas and make a sort of collage with them. But then when I found this canvas at JoAnn I immediately switched to this idea. I’m so glad I did, I love it!  I painted the whole canvas blue, then lightly sketched the line where the branch would be. That way I was able to more or less line up the kids’ feet.  Once the foot prints were dry, I went back and painted in the tree, branches, leaves, feet, beaks and eyes. I also took a slightly darker brown and wrote in the kids’ initials and 2014 on the tree as if it were carved in. This one makes me smile every time I go by it.

Fall Acorn Banner

What good is a fall gallery wall without a label? I used these two tone acorn foam cut outs from the Dollar Store. To make the letters, I wrote the letter on the acorn using a glue stick, then Evie spread glitter all over it. I’ll honestly admit, I am surprised it worked out so well.  After we did all the letters, I punched holes in the top of each acorn and Evie sewed jute string through. If you repeat this craft, word of advice. String the acorns *before* you do the glue and glitter. It seems so obvious now, but it wasn’t at the time…To finish off the banner, I tied some red gingham ribbon between the letters for a little added cuteness.

I’ve got some more ideas in mind, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. At least for a week or so, though, they’ll get put on the back burner since we’ve got a birthday party coming up next weekend. Sweet Evie is turning four and she’s so excited to celebrate (and have cake). So I’ll be distracted by that for the coming week. If the party turns out cute, I’ll be sure to share on the old blog soon.

St. Jude’s Give Thanks Walk

October 16, 2014 by

We didn’t make it very public but about 4 months ago, just after his first birthday, Reuben had a seizure in his bed. I opened his door, turned on the light and let his sisters in to wake him up from a nap. I heard them start a chant of “Benny wake up! Benny wake up!” as I walked to the laundry room to get him a clean change of clothes. I talked to Ryan for a few minutes before realizing that the girls were still chanting But I didn’t hear Reuben laughing. My heart dropped as I rushed to his room, knowing something wasn’t right.

He had a prolonged, a-typical seizure from an unknown cause. It took over half an hour for the seizure to stop, and even then, he remained  semi-conscience. In the ambulance ride to the hospital he seized again. It was at least 5 hours until he began to come around. I cannot describe the horror of seeing my child in such a state; I felt so helpless and scared as the doctors discussed CAT scans and Meningitis. All I could do was cradle my son and chant “Benny wake up. Benny wake up”

We are thankful every day that Reuben is still in fine health. All tests have been clear and he has gone almost 5 months without any further seizure activity. It is everyone’s hope that this was an isolated incident and will not affect his future health. At least that’s what the doctors say. As a parent, I don’t think I’ll ever get the images of that night out of my mind. I don’t think I will ever feel completely at ease again knowing how quickly something so serious can happen.

Since Reuben’s seizure, I have been more keen than ever to donate to children’s medical charities. I am thankful and relieved that our experience didn’t involve more than a single night of observation in a hospital. For many families, childhood sickness means so much more. A friend of mine from high school and college spent a few years working for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She could not say enough good and positive things about the organization and facilities. I was struck by the sincerity of her stories and I have come to respect St. Jude a great deal. She has been trying for years to get me to participate in their Give Thanks Walk and I’ve always had a pregnancy \ baby \ reason not to. But not this year! I’ve started a team to walk and raise money and I’m so excited to finally be *doing* something worthwhile to help. I’m looking for people to join my team to help raise money and walk with me on November 22. It is at the BREC park on Highland starting at 9 am.


You can follow this link to join the team or donate!  http://walk.stjude.org/TeamCarruth

Your donations help keep treatment, travel, housing and food free for patients and families. The research done at St. Jude is freely shared to doctors and scientists worldwide.

Thank you to everyone who wants to help!

Pinterest Challenge : Crayon on Wall

October 2, 2014 by

Three-year-olds! Am I right? So recently, Evangeline decided to play “teacher” with a black crayon and our lightly painted wall. Her penmanship was pretty impressive, I’ll give her that. I won’t admit to how long I left her art work stay on display, I’ll only say today I decided I could no longer live like that.

This went on for the entire length of the wall

So I did what any modern parent does when faced with a common problem, I went to the internet. I found a number of magic cleaning solutions promising to quickly and easily remove the crayon. Since I had a lot of space to work with, I decided to test a few of the different methods to see which worked the best. I discovered that no mater what, it was going to take some elbow grease. Our walls are moderately textured and, well, it’s was black crayon. I tried:

Crayon on Wall

Magic Eraser: This was one of my favorite methods. It did quickly and fairly completely remove the crayon with minimal scrubbing. It smeared a lot and I had to keep stopping to go rinse out the eraser and start again. I was using an x-brand eraser and it just fell apart entirely before I was finished. I’ve used both the name brand and the knock-offs and have found them to be pretty comparable. I can’t say for sure if the name brand would have held out better or not.

Baking Soda: I actually had high hopes for this one, I can’t tell you why. But I found that it did like nothing. I dipped a wet towel into a bowl of baking soda and rubbed the paste-clump into the wall. It barely lightened the crayon. After scrubbing harder, it started to come up and smear. It would have taken a lot of work for minimal results and it left all kinds of clumpy baking soda paste on the floor.

WD-40: It worked a little better than the baking soda, but Holy Accostic Smell Batman! Maybe if you were in a pinch and had a small area to clean, this would have worked well. After I sprayed and wiped my small test area, I just put the can away. I knew I didn’t want to use it to clean an entire wall. The smell would have been way too strong.

Toothpaste: The clear winner! I’m glad I tried this one after the WD-40. The minty toothpaste helped cover up the smell. I was really surprised how well this worked. I almost didn’t try it because, well, our toothpaste is kind of expensive to be smearing all over the walls. Luckily I found a small nearly full travel size tube of non-gel tooth paste. I didn’t have an old toothbrush so I used an all purpose scrub brush. On the one hand, the bigger brush was good since I had such a large area to clean. On the other, I think I ended up loosing a lot of toothpaste because it got pushed down so far into the bristles. Nonetheless, I wet the walls a little, then globbed on the toothpaste. I came back over it with the scrub brush and immediately the crayon came up. It took a bit of scrubbing to get all the little specks out of the texture, but the bulk of the marks came up easily. It smeared quite a bit and I had to come back with a clean wet rag to wipe the wall down.

toothpaste winner

Ultimately I used the toothpaste method on the whole wall, then went back with the magic eraser to help with the last lingering specks. When it looked good enough, I wiped the whole wall down a few times with a clean rag. I suspect I’ll still have some back smudges in the morning, but they should come up with just a wet rag. The only real draw back to this method was that it required more elbow grease to let Evie help with the clean up. Although I suspect it won’t be long and there’ll be more for her to clean.

I Could Have Slept All Night

September 26, 2014 by

giphyI’ve heard it often sited that sleep deprivation can have the same physical effects as intoxication. This factoid is usually told as a cautionary tale to cross country truckers. Its only been recently that I’ve heard the same tid bit applied to new parents.

Months of broken sleep totaling less than 6 hours total means most parents of newborns are walking around legally impaired.

Maybe this explains why baby Ugg boots are a thing.

While the physical toils go uncontested, little is made of the psychological effects of so many restless nights. What happens to a person sitting night after night in a dark room, rocking and humming to a semi-sentient creature?

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Song parodies of course!

This is my most recent accomplishment. You can decide if picturing Audrey Hepburn is a help or not.

I Could Have Slept All Night

I could have slept all night

I could have slept  all night

and still have slept some more

.

I could have closed my eyes

and dreamt a thousand things

I’ve never dreamt before

.

I only know if she

wouldn’t have screamed for me

I could have slept

slept

slept

all night

So don’t worry about us parents. We’re just up all night rockin’ to the rhythm of our own insanity. But seriously, though, if you see us driving with that “baby on board” sticker, it may just be best for you to leave a little extra space. We really can’t be held responsible for what we may or may not do on less than 6 hours of broken sleep.

Quick Fall Decorations

September 26, 2014 by

We’ve had nearly a week straight of less than 100 degree temperatures!! While part of me is sad to see the peak of hurricane season come and go so quietly, a larger part of me is relieved things are finally cooling down. The first day of cooler weather, I walked outside with the kids to play in the yard and just took a deep breath and said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have survived another Louisiana summer.”

Less humidity is invigorating. Immediately my thoughts turned to crisp weather and the holidays and of course I wanted to decorate! At this point in life, seasonal decorations have to come cheaply and easily. I can’t really pull out extensive craft supplies to work on a 3 hour project, nor can I spend $50 on a single wreath. But it’s still fun to decorate and change the house for a new season, even if it’s not Better Homes and Gardens perfect. So here are some of the things I’ve done around the house for fall!

fall shelvesThe easiest decorations to make are ones for sale at the store ;) There are some beautiful things out there, but the often cost a lot. Or at least what seems like a lot to me. I went to the Dollar General and picked up these things. The leaf tile I bought at JoAnn’s last year at their after season sale. All told, I spent around $10

The rest of our decorations are pretty much Dollar Store crafts. I got these three large felt shapes and simply hot glued them together. I laid the center leaf on top of both of the side pumpkins. Voila, a table runner!

Table runner

Evangeline and I made these pumpkin garlands to hang in front of our two windows in the dining room. It would have taken me 5 minutes, but it took a little longer because I used it as a learning opportunity and let Evie do most of the assembly. These are foam pumpkin shapes from the Dollar Store. It’s hard to see in the picture, but some are plain and some are covered in glitter (Evie got to practice making patterns). Using a hole punch, I put two holes near the top, then Evie sewed a jute string through each one.

pumpkin garland

This last project was a little more involved, but just as quick. I saw this idea on Pinterest for using embroidery hoops to make little pumpkins. The original pin left the hoops plain and went for a natural and slightly more abstract look. I decided to make mine a little more animated looking. It takes two embroidery hoops to make one pumpkin — one outer ring and two inner rings. I made one large pumpkin and two small. You inner lock the two inner rings then slip them inside the outer ring and tighten the screw. I found the larger ring was easier to do; the wood of the smaller rings are thicker, but it worked just as well.

Embroidery Hoop Pumpkin

I painted the inside and outside of the rings in alternating yellow and orange. Once they were assembled, I cut brown stem looking pieces out of thicker construction paper. I bought a vine of fake leaves from the Dollar Store and using hot glue, I attached the stem as well as the leaves. My version takes a few more steps, but it does give a different look.

pumpkins

Are things cooling off where you are? Are you making any preparations for the fall season? The kids and I are starting on our Fall Gallery Wall in the dinning room. So be on the look out for new additions to that.  In case you’ve missed the others, we’ve done a Spring Gallery Wall and a Summer Gallery Wall too.

Writing the Opposite Sex

September 17, 2014 by

As soon as I possibly could, I read The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). It came as no surprise that I loved it! What I enjoyed the most was the character development of both Robin and Cormoran. This was partly because it makes me happy to see Rowling setting up for a continuing series (keep ‘em coming, J.K.!!). But also, Rowling has such a knack for writing complex, diverse and completely realistic characters; it is fun to watch them develop. After finishing The Silkworm, I spent a few days just absorbing the novel and allowing my mind to wander.

I noted how aptly J.K. Rowling can write characters of the opposite sex (hello entire male cast of the Harry Potter series). She’s able to write characters who think, process, speak and act in completely believable male ways. At the same time, her male characters are not stale or sterotypes. They are complex, well-rounded characters who develop through the story and display various virtues without being feminized. Each one unique to himself and not a copy of characters who’ve come before (save maybe Fred and George;) )

Of course this train of thought went off in many directions: are female authors as a group more capable of writing characters of the opposite sex? Is there some empathy more readily available to women to write a male character with depth? Are there as many equally complex and dynamic female characters written by male authors?

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had thinking about this lately. I have had a continuing conversation comparing characters written by authors of the opposite sex. There are some obvious short comings to these comparisons: lead or iconic characters are less often female and as a whole in the western literary world, more authors are male. So by sheer numbers, it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. But I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the best characters written by authors of the opposite sex.

My criteria were: enduring characters who’s stories retain some level of popularity today, characters who are believable and realistic in their gender (thus showing apt skill of the author to write more than a simple characture), characters who have some real depth or complexity to them, not merely cardboard cut-outs.  I also eliminated characters based on real people or folklore since they lack complete originality from the author. So here goes the fun!

Most Notable Male Characters Written by Female Authors:

  • Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – Few male American characters have the strength of character and virtue prized in Atticus Finch. He is an enduring and beloved character both for his perseverance of conviction and his unconventional role as a father. He walks in both compassion and strength, an educated man who is a friend and advocate of the everyman. Atticus Finch is a man we would all be proud to know.
  • Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind – In direct contrast to Finch’s still-water, easy-going character is Rhett Butler. Just as enduring of a character, Rhett is pretty much everything Finch is not. He is a fun-loving, self-serving, woman-wooing son-of-a-bitch who we all love. Margaret Mitchell reveals the true depth of Rhett Butler, however, many times. Yes he is a war profiteer, but his convictions also lead him to serve in the army. Sure he just wants to save himself, but Scarlett would never have made it out of Atlanta without his help. Bonnie. I’ll just leave that there. As we see Scarlett hardening through the war, Rhett softens. From the beginning, he sees through Scarlett’s facade and shrewdly knows her for who she really is. He opens himself for love and accepts responsibility all while retaining his virile rugged masculinity.
  • Albus Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series– Really I could have chosen nearly any male character from the series (Harry, Hagrid, Lupin, Lucious) but I’ve already gushed about how great of a writer Rowling is. When it comes to Dumbledore, what isn’t there to love? He is a brilliant mix of genteel strength, power and humanity. He is a man who craves power and prides himself on his intelligence. Yet there is a self-deprecating humility about him and a level of penitential self-control which keeps him on a narrower path than the likes of Voldemort and Grindlewald.  At the close of the series, Dumbledore’s many faults are revealed. These faults serve to humanize the great wizard and embolden the hero, Harry to ultimate victory. While I wouldn’t characterize Dumbledore as a father figure to Harry, I think it is safe to say without a doubt that their dynamic would be entirely different had Dumbledore been written as a female character.
  • Severus Snape from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series — I tried to limit myself to one Rowling character, but I think it would be a discredit to this list to leave off Severus Snape. Just thinking about the final revelations of Snape’s characters choke me up. Throughout the majority of the series, Professor Snape is simply a brooding bitter man with questionable allegiance. He hates Harry because he hated his father, he’s disgruntled in his job and he wears all black. Until, oh until, we find the true strength and loyalty of his character. Despite all the years, all the danger and all the heartache, Snape remains true to the memory of the only woman he ever loved. He protects her son at all costs and ultimately puts himself in such danger as to lose his life in order that Harry may proceed to victory.
  • Maxim DeWinter from Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca — I considered also Richard Grenvile from the same author’s The King’s General, but I don’t find him to be as enduring in the pop culture sense. Maxim is, to me, the epitome of  a haunted man. His brooding and sudden shifts of mood are terrifying while his passion and affection for his second wife melt your heart. DuMaurier perfectly writes the masculine version of a character haunted by guilt and ghosts. He turns inward, scared and ashamed of his secret until he snaps and lashes out violently. Only then to return to the Maxim his wife loves.

Men Written by Women

  • Honorable Mention:
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice
    • Dr. Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
    • Ashley Wilkes from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind

Most Notable Female Characters Written by Male Authors:

  • Lady Macbeth from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth — Is there a female character with more depth or more complexity than Lady Macbeth? I think not. Themes of power, desire and ambition are common in Shakespeare’s plays, and in Lady Macbeth they are absolutely explosive. She laments and curses her womanhood, which keeps her from killing Duncan herself and achieving her ambition. Despite her woman’s breasts however, Lady Macbeth’s blood is thickened and her passage to regret is indeed stopped up. She is haunted by guilt and ghosts much like Maxim DeWinter, however, her’s is an entirely different path altogether. Never is there a story of more woe than this, of corruption and destruction upon Lady Macbeth’s soul.
  • Ophelia from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet —  You don’t get to be “The Bard” for nothing. Shakespeare’s dramas seem to be an exercise in “how many ways can a person be driven to madness?” While Lady M is the cause of her own crazy, Ophelia is driven mad by her lack of power and control. It is the sudden withdraw of those powerful men who kept her safe that lead her to her own end. Lady M is driven mad by her strength while Ophelia is undone by her weakness.
  • Blanche DuBois from Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Names Desire — Speaking of crazy. It would seem male authors are most apt at creating women whoare driven to insanity. Like Ophelia, Blanche is a woman who’s support is pulled out from under her. During her visit to her sister, she reveals the truth to her situation. She slowly looses her grip on reality while still trying to maintain the standards of her social status.
  • Irene Adler from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia — Not a crazy person. Or at least not in the same sense of the others on this list. Here is a woman bedecked with the highest praise and honor Sherlock Holmes can possibly allow. “The Woman”. Surely hundreds of pages can be written on Doyle’s choice of title. Irene Adler is not merely a female version of Sherlock Holmes. Rather she is a woman who is able to gracefully move through society while also possessing wit and intelligence to match Holmes. She carries herself with pride and gentility and is not easily undone or intimidated.
  • Hester Prynne from Nathanel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter is an enduring story for many reasons, one of which is the unique take on shamed women. Hawthorne does not merely recreate a character of low morals who is caught in her debauchery and serves as a warning to others. When Hester becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she is immediately shamed by the community with a scarlet letter sewn to her dress. But through the story she bears her burden faithfully never seeking retribution or apology. She retains the love she has for the father of her child, without naming him and destroying his character along with hers. In this act she illuminates the inequality shown to men verses women who commit the same sin. She is a woman of strength, integrity and silent grace.

Women Written by Men

  • Honorable Mention:
    • Lisbeth Salander from Steig Larsson’s Millennium series
    • The Wife of Bath from Geoffery Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

I am perfectly willing to admit my lists may be flawed, especially the latter. During this exercise I realized I have not read many of the classic books with female characters written by male authors, namely: Anna Karenina, Lolita, Les Miserables or Sophie’s Choice. Also eliminating folk tale type characters did limit the second list greatly. There have been some male authors and poets who have beautifully breathed life into many females of the past. So there may be some big holes in the lists. But it was a fun thought experiment none the less.

Who makes your list? Which characters do you love who were penned by an author of the opposite sex? Do you think the sex of an author effects how well they are able to create characters of the opposite sex?

As Long as Hope Still Has it’s Bit of Green

September 11, 2014 by

Last year I posted “I never want to repeat a year like this last one.” At 26, I was optimistic. At 27, I am more realistic. My life is meant to change, yet not change. The more things change the more they stay the same. And, hey, maybe that’s just life.

When I wrote my birthday post last year, I had no way of knowing that in less than 2 months time we would be getting another surprise:

New Baby

And that set in motion another year that felt awfully similar to the year before and the year before. It’s like we got a little do-over but without the traumatic house-buying fiasco. But I suppose it isn’t fair to say things are the same. Things have certainly gotten cuter around here (and louder and smellier and …)

#'s 1,2&3 Baby of the Family Mama and Reuben

 

And little by little things are getting better. Genevieve has moved in with Reuben so Ryan and I have reclaimed our tranquil bedroom (minus the incessant baby monitor). The chickens have a full run now so our yard (and drive way and carport and patio) aren’t covered with poop). And look! We might get a tropical storm this weekend!

not reuben or genevieve...

Chicken Run

Twenty- six, twenty-seven, what’s the difference? We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again. And, as long as hope still has it’s bit of green, I’ll dare to say this again: I hope we don’t have another year like this last one. Maybe this year will be calm.

 

Ode to Nicholas Sparks

September 1, 2014 by

Kelli:

Yes indeed! Sometimes the best thing to set your mind to is a little bit of fluff

Originally posted on Tales of a Crazy Person:

In light of this very nice long Labor Day weekend, I thought I would start a new book.  When things get really tough for me I usually try to occupy my mind with simple things.  Sometimes that means watching Doc McStuffins on the Disney Channel and sometimes that means reading “fluff” books.  Fluff books for me are those that indulge my love of romance and a good story but does not necessarily require a profound meaning or even be that thought provoking. It may seem silly to waste my brain power on something so trivial but when life is so stressful on a daily basis a little bit of fluff is just what I need.

BOMBookCover-680x1020

I don’t care what anyone thinks but I LOVE Nicholas Sparks books.  Especially ones that have a movie.  Yea Yea I know…they all basically have the same plot: there is some sort of relationship that…

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Back in the Saddle

August 25, 2014 by

Thus begins our fourth week since Ryan’s returned to work. I had to check the calendar and count because it has all blurred together. The first day was probably the easiest because the kids were so shocked by my constant presence, they were on their best behavior. The novelty wore off by the second day.

Dad’s in charge this summer

Overall, however, things have been going better than I expected. As I laid in bed convalescing over the summer (read: dreading the end of Ryan’s vacation time) I started thinking of ways to make this postpartum transition easier than the last. I concluded that I need to be proactive about my own sanity. Keeping myself calm has become my new priority and that’s made for a few changes.

I’ve worked to get back into a routine around the house and so far I’ve been successful every other week (I’ll take it!). When Ryan was home this summer, and exclusively in charge of the oldest three kids, he managed to get them all to nap at the same time each day. I have become the protector of this schedule! Our days are much more structured and predictable now. What a relief! This also means that I have a better sense of what’s going to happen each day and can pick when the best time would be to do a craft, watch a movie, unload the dishwasher or exercise. A little bit of foresight goes a very long way.

We made a castle and royal family out of paper towel rolls and clothes pins!

Having a weekly schedule also helps keep me from becoming frazzled. The points in the day when the kids are occupying themselves without fighting are short and sweet. I have to be on top of my game if I want to complete a task before they notice I’m not hovering over them admiring every tower they build. When these times come up, I know what needs to be done. There is a lot less frantic bouncing between half done chores when I can say “ok, today is Tuesday; I just need to keep the laundry going and the bathrooms will wait until Thursday.” More importantly, it helps me find “me time” during the day. Rather than trying to squeeze every ounce of productivity, energy and willpower out of myself to do one more chore, I can recognize that what needs to be done for that day is done and I can (gasp!) sit down and relax. Hello sanity!

Some of the biggest changes, however, I had to make within myself. Come to find out, I’m a pretty uptight person. It only took 4 kids in 4 years to realize I need to loosen up a bit. The kids have areas in the house that are almost exclusively for their use. And I’m not so worried about keeping those areas pristine.  I’ve found that it doesn’t bother me too much to see a messy play room, backyard or hall bathroom and if the kitchen, living room and master bedroom are picked up and kept neat then I feel much calmer. I’m happy to let the kids play throughout the house, but I’ve become more protective of those spaces and make sure they get straightened up throughout the day. So when Evangeline eats her breakfast at the living room coffee table and somehow manages to get every pillow and blanket thrown on the floor amid her trash and dishes, I don’t freak out. I can better accept that where kids are, there messes are also. But when  breakfast \ morning TV time is over and she’s ready to move on to the next thing, she has to pick up the living room first. She can make the mess, but she doesn’t get to leave the mess.

Seriously, though, where do these blankets keep coming from??

This brings me to my second major mental unclenching:  allowing Evangeline more freedom. She is one of those toddlers who is too smart for her own good. Since she began walking, Evangeline has forced us into this very delicate tug of war. We want to encourage her personal growth and curiosity, but we don’t want to have to keep cleaning up the honey she climbed up on the counter to get off the top shelf and spill time and time again. I am trying to better direct her energy and skills. It is now her sole duty to check for eggs each day, a chore she delights and takes pride in. She is also able, willing and allowed to help fold clothes — something I never let her do before. She and Felicity are in charge of switching the laundry over. God bless a front loader! By loosening up just a little and allowing Evangeline more (guided) freedom, we’ve all been getting along much much better.

Big Helper

 

I’ve been enjoying my children much more. More often than before I have the feeling that I can do this. It’s exhausting and there’s no way around that. Genevieve is doing great, but not so great that she’s sleeping through the night and feeding herself during the day. Reuben is still the girls’ rag doll they carry from room to room despite his shrill whining. And big mama micromanaging hen, Evangeline, can’t take the hint when Felicity tells her to just leave her alone. But somehow amid the chaos we’re finding a little bit of order, a little bit of freedom and a lot of stories for the blog!

2014-08-07 11.54.08

 

How The Reading Goes

August 14, 2014 by

Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the old blog. I’m just going to plea newborn status and move on.

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So, we’re over halfway through the year and I figured it’s time for a little reading challenge update. Since I last updated in April, my book count has taken off. As of today, I’ve read 23 of 35 books and 6,692 pages out of 11,000.

Audiobooks have helped those counts a great deal while not adding much great substance. I have no shame though in admitting that I greatly enjoyed listening to back to back Nero Wolfe novels.

Speaking of goals, however, I have done very little to further my Southern works repertoire. Thanks to the magic of audiobooks, I’ve listened to A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Conner and The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. I can’t recall much emotion following the completion of either of those books, but I’m at least glad to have them crossed off my list. Since reading those in early April, however, I’ve read nothing else Southern related. We’ll see if that bug comes back around to motivate me before the end of the year.

I have read some books that I’ve enjoyed including; The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch, The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer The Mysteries of the Middle Ages by Thomas Cahill and The Silkworm!!

I didn’t get into the Harry Potter fandom until after the books were all published, so I missed out on the anticipation and worldwide excitement for each release. Although Cormoran Strike pales in comparison to Harry Potter in the global scene, it’s been fun to be a part of the excitement. The second installment was a little grittier than The Cuckoo’s Calling, however it was a great read. Galbraith\Rowling included a considerable amount of character development in The Silkworm which makes me even more excited for this series to continue.

I am proud to announce I finished a non-fiction, non-audiobook! My brain has been moving so slow lately, it’s taken a lot of motivation to pick up a book. But Thomas Cahill did it again; he enraptured my attention in the 5th book of his Hinges of History series, The Mysteries of the Middle Ages. I read the first installment, How the Irish Saved Civilization, then skipped books 2-4 and picked up in the middle ages. Ryan enjoyed my reading this book, as I think it is one of his life goals to prove to the world that the 11th-13th centuries weren’t stagnant, oppressive bleak eras when people sat around waiting for the Enlightenment. For me, it was very enthralling and all mostly new. I feel I have a much better framework for how the lives of St. Francis, Thomas Aquinas and Dante fit into history, as well as new-to-me important figures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Giotto. I look forward to reading the next installment covering the Renaissance.

I haven’t set out to read book series, but I find myself in the middle of a few. In addition to Cormoran Strike and The Hinges of History, I’ve  also been following  The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The third installment, The Prisoner of Heaven was refreshing. The first two went from dark to darker so it was nice to have a slightly lighter story. Albeit not entirely a light and fluffy book. It has made me want to go back and re-read the first two as this book fills in a lot more history absent from the first ones. It feels like there’s a lot of discrepancy, but it may be that I’m not remembering everything correctly.

As for what’s next, I’m not so sure. I’ve been listening to a lot of TED Radio Hour episodes on NPR and have tucked away a few book recommendations. I’ll have to wait and see what our library has. I dare say we’ve had a pretty calm month. The school year has started again for Ryan, so I’m in the deep end of solo parenting 4 under 4. We’re trying to get back into the groove of a routine, or at least eating every day. Each day is a little bit different, just enough to keep me on my toes. If you don’t see me around here much, know it’s because I’m trying to survive and may not have time to document it.

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