Quiet

I was three quarters of the way through this book and already had 4 blog ideas stemming from it. This is a book that gives you a lot to think about.

GoodReads.com recommended this book to me and it sounded interesting.

goodreads link

Little did I know that Quiet by Susan Cain was taking on a life of it’s own already. The author, a self confessed introvert, has shifted careers from Wall Street lawyer to introvert study-er extraordinaire. Using psychology and neurology, she examines the differences between intro and extroverts. Further she looks to sociology and anthropology to find ways in which history has favored the bold and the quiet. She finds that modern, western society, especially American society, disproportionately favors extroverted personalities to the detriment of introverts. Susan Cain does more than identify injustices done to introverts however. With her research in mind, she makes a case for shifting the balance allowing introverts to more comfortably function in society; she gives concrete suggestions for change to teachers, parents, schools and work places. When our society accommodates introverts, she says, we will all benefit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as Susan Cain’s TED talk on the topic. I believe myself to be an introvert, and even consider myself to be pretty well educated on the differences between the two personalities (thank you Meyer’s Briggs). But the latest psychological and neurological studies, the experts in child-psychology as well as Cain’s personal insights offer even more to learn. The book is well researched in various fields of study and comprehensively written. Cain discusses the anatomy of the brain and lofty psychological studies with ease, making complex concepts understandable for the average reader. I highly recommend this book and if you start noticing new posts like “Introverts in the Church” or “Why my kids don’t respect that I’m an introvert” you’ll know where I got the ideas 😉

Recommendations based on this book: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

goodreads link
goodreads link
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Great Mamas Think Alike

I Am Mamma-Hear Me Roar Blog

After I posted about bringing the kids on a roadtrip, a friend of mine sent me a link to a similar post on this blog. This mom had compiled 10 ideas for entertaining small children on long trips. She had a few ideas I hadn’t thought of, like buying Dollar Store toys and giving each kid a new toy every hour or so and bringing glow sticks to play with when it gets dark. Those are great ideas and I’m adding them to my list.

But what struck me more than what I didn’t think of, was the ideas our lists had in common. Her list was a compilation of her own ideas plus those of others. Every idea on my list was also on hers. That made my heart swell with pride. As someone who didn’t feel especially drawn towards motherhood before having kids, I often find myself questioning if I’m doing the right things, making the right decisions or just a live- in-babysitter. When I started making my list, I earnestly tried to think of things the girls would enjoy, what would keep their attention and what, in the long run, could really be helpful. I felt a little silly. I worried that my ideas might actually be stupid and unrealistic. I didn’t really know what I was talking about.

But then to see other mothers on the interweb had the same ideas as mine and had success with these ideas made me feel as though I’m not a fraud. I really am a mom. Just by having and raising children I am developing that intuitive knowlege about how to care for them. How encouraging! More experienced mothers are always advising us young moms to trust ourselves and go with what we feel is right. But how can you trust yourself when you don’t know if you’re right 😉

I’m sure something else will come along and I’ll question if I’m making the right choice or even in the right ballpark. I’m sure I’ll go through the cycle of self doubt and degradation, but I hope I remember this lesson. I am on the right track and I do know what I’m talking about. Or if I’m wrong, at least other mothers are wrong too!

They make you love them

The Other Posh Ham…

One day I will tell you about Jamie Oliver’s bacon wrapped salmon and you will thank me. But today, I’m going to tell you about our variation on his variation on chicken cordon bleu which is similar. You’ll still probably thank me.

Jamie Oliver has a recipe Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham which essentially is a pan fried chicken breast topped with shredded Parmesan and prosciutto. Since broadening our food choices in the past few years, Ryan and my palates have become more refined. Not refined, just more refined.  But still not quite enough to justify paying for prosciutto when bacon is on sale. Call us Philistines or call us Americans, we substituted bacon and it was delicious!

How to make it: Prepare your chicken by laying a boneless, skinless chicken breast upside down. Score the bottom with criss-cross design and season with pepper, fresh thyme and lemon zest. Top with grated Parmesan. Lay three prosciutto or bacon slices over the chicken overlapping and covering the whole breast. Top with a little more thyme. Once your chicken breast is topped, place clear plastic wrap over and beat it flat with a saucepan. Yup, that’s the direction. This smushes everything together and gives you a more evenly dense piece of meat for quicker cooking.

covered with Parmesean, thyme and bacon
covered with Parmesan, thyme and bacon

To cook, place chicken breast bacon side down in a skillet with oil over medium heat.  Drizzle the top with olive oil. Let each side cook for about three minutes, maybe a little longer on the bacon side, giving it time to crisp up. Once you’re sure the chicken is cooked through remove and serve!

Couldn't you just die!
Couldn’t you just die!

The salty bacon gives the chicken a more savory flavor than the traditional sweet ham in chicken cordon bleu. This method is also much simpler than the traditional jelly roll. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chicken cordon bleu, but wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t around to making it since Evangeline was born. This is our new go-to chicken recipe.

also good with potatoes and crunchy salad
also good with potatoes and crunchy salad

AsspocketProductions

This Father’s Day past, I really tried to come up with something unique for Ryan. It’s not that he’s a difficult person to shop for, he isn’t an especially private or hesitant with his opinions. He’s just a boring person to shop for. I of course say this as lovingly as possible. But when it comes to buying Ryan a gift, it’s either book I’m not interested in, beer I don’t drink or practical clothing. How boring right? So this year I put my thinking cap on and came up with……………………………………bookplate stamp! A stamp with his name to put on the front flap of his books.  Isn’t that much less boring 😉

It actually was a great idea. Let me tell you why. It was something unexpected, something he would enjoy as well as something I was excited to give. Perfect, right?  To etsy.com I went. Oh my goodness so many search results! I looked through about 3 or 4 pages of handmade bookplate stamps before I realized all the ones I liked were made by AssPocket Productions. I knew I wanted the latin “Ex Libris” rather than the English “From the Library of” and some sort of classical graphic. Even with those narrow parameters I found a lot of options to choose from. Ultimately I decided on

StaceyProofs20130702_Layout 1

Ryan thinks it’s the most badass way to tell someone not to steal his book. The designer said on her site that she was running behind on orders, but I received the proof the next day and the stamp was mailed within a week. We got the stamp and it looks great! She even sent a 10% off coupon for our next order. I first thought to get some stamp cleaner because I need some more, but now I’m thinking I want something fun for me like a return address stamp. I guess we all define fun differently.

If you’re in the market for a custom rubber stamp or unique gift idea for me or for someone else ;), I happily recommend AssPocketProductions! She has a lot of designs already in her gallery, but she says she is open to custom designs too.

Takin’ Toddlers on the Road

My sister recently moved about 4 hours away to Florida. I don’t know what brand of crazy pills I’ve been taking, but we’ve decided to take the kids for a visit.

Let’s recap! Evangeline is 2.5 and in a no-nap, mine-mine-mine phase, Felicity 14 months is a wimp who whines at everything and Reuben is almost 3 months old. We want to put them in a car for upwards of 4 hours…one way.

2013-07-09

But I think it will be worth it (remind me I said that when we get back). We haven’t seen my sister’s new apartment or where she’s working. We have been mostly housebound all summer so it will be nice to take a little road trip and see the beach. I think Felicity will enjoy the sand and waves. Evangeline…well Evangeline may tolerate it. So, it should be fun!

It should be fun

It should be fun

It should be fun

In order to make this work, I need to deny most of reality but I am also trying to be pro-active in planning how we’ll entertain the kiddo’s en route. This has been a timely topic in the parenting blog-o-sphere of late, but most suggestions I’ve seen are for older children. It will be a few years before Road Trip Bingo or The License Plate Game will really be fun. So I am compiling a list of things to bring\do to entertain toddlers on this road trip. This is what I have so far and I would greatly greatly appreciate (as will Evangeline and Felicity) any other suggestions you may have!

  • Nursery Rhyme\ Hand Clap CD’s to help work out the wiggles after monotony sets in
  • Lulabye CD to help calm down after the wiggles wear off
  • Read-along books on tape
  • Non sugary snacks like crackers and cheese
  • Frequent stops at restaurants with play lands or rest stops with places to run.
  • Drawing materials for Evangeline that won’t permanently tattoo Felicity
  • Road maps to track our progress
  • Take lots of pictures, even of meltdowns to remind posterity of how much fun we had.

Did you take your little ones on the road this summer? How did they fare in the car? What were your favorite beach activities\supplies?

Reuben’s Room Begins

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Reuben is 2 months old!

Our new house has three bedrooms. Our new family has 5 people. The girls are sharing a room and the ideal is to have Reuben in there with them in a few years. In the meantime, he has a corner in the master bedroom with us. He’s two months old now and we’ve begun to notice he sleeps better when we aren’t in the room. Plus we kinda just want our kid-free space back. So plans have begun to move him into our study\computer room where he hopefully can stay at least until he turns one year old.

Having a separate study is the best way we could come up with to protect the computer from sticky toddler fingers and teething baby mouths. It also, hypothetically, allows Ryan a quiet space to study and work. But fact of the matter is, we need the room 😉 On top of cleaning out, the first order of business was to put up curtains. I opted for store bought, room darkening curtains rather than making my own 1.) because I wouldn’t really be able to make them much cheaper and 2.) I wanted to be lazy. Speaking of lazy ha! This is what the study looks like right now.

study pano
Real Life

I figured I could just hang Reuben from the ceiling maybe? One big box of stuff is going to Goodwill, the others are going in the attic. Either the computer desk or the two large white bookcases are going to move into our room to clear out enough space for the pack-n-play, chest of drawers and maybe just maybe the rocking chair. Ironically, the closet is the neatest part of this room.

One thing we have done though, is hang curtains from our custom (doesn’t that sound better than “homemade”) cornice board and I made a memo board.

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The memo board is pretty straight forward, there are dozens of tutorials for these online so I won’t bore you with another. I used a frame-less cork board from Joann’s Craft Store, silky ribbon, a fabric scrap from his quilt (coming soon) and white top thumbtacks. I took a balsa wood “R” also from Joann’s, painted it orange and hot glued it to a thumbtack. I glue 002the letter to a push pin rather than to the board itself for a couple of reasons: in case I want to flip the board from vertical to hang horizontal and to make it easier to stick pictures etc in and around the center. I’ve made two others for the girls and I’ve figured out a system now! **Tip: I had to use my high heat glue gun, because the low heat didn’t get the glue hot enough to stick to the slick metal of the thumbtack**

I used a few Pinterest tutorials for the cornice board, but we (meaning my dad) tweaked it a bit to make it easier to hang and be able to span further across the window.  I’ll come back and post more in depth for those interested just how we did it. But for now, I’m so excited with how it turned out and how the curtains look hanging up! If we just keep pushing this boy will have a space to himself after all. He’ll be the only Carruth not sharing a bedroom with someone else.

What Are You Reading This Year?

It dawned on me today that I’ve posted reviews of the books I’ve been reading, but haven’t publicized my 2013 Reading Resolutions. What’s the point of having a blog if not to publicize the most mundane details of my life??

In 2012 I used GoodReads.com‘s year goal app and set out to read 45 books. I ended up taking the summer off from reading and only read 29 books. However, some of the books I did read were quite substantial. I felt almost like I was cheating , counting A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window which took me two hours to read the same as Trinity which took almost a month. But it was great fun to have a goal and to have external motivation.

This year, I tweaked my resolutions. I vacillated between setting a number of books to read verses reading those specific books I wanted to challenge myself to read. I also wanted to gauge real accomplishment and growth,  not just get credit for reading so many short, easy books. My goals are such:

1. to read 30 books

2. of those 30, 11 specific titles

3. to read 10,000 pages

I am proud to say, I am right at the halfway mark for each of my goals. To date I’ve read 15 books, 5 of my specific books totaling 5,830 pages! And  I would like to say for the record that I am obsessed with the Stat tool on GoodReads! I’ve taken a week off between books here and there but for the most part I’ve kept up momentum reading. These are the specific books I am to read this year:

  1. Jane Eyre -Bronte **finished 3/9/13**
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix– Rowling **finished 07\4\13**
  3. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince– Rowling
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows– Rowling
  5. Frenchman’s Creek– DuMaurier
  6. Ella: Princess, Saint, Martyr– Warwick **finished 1\7\2013**
  7. An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick– Pakula
  8. King Lear– Shakespeare **finished 07\7\13**
  9. In Chancery (book #2 of The Forsyte Saga)- Galsworthy
  10. The Two Towers (book #2 of The Lord of the Rings)-  Tolkien
  11. How to Read a Book– Adler
  12. Last Child in the Woods– Louv**finished 2/21/13**

How to Read a Book and Last Child in the Woods are both recommended by The Angelicum Academy for parents planning to home-school using the Classical Method (which we are). I began last year re-reading the Harry Potter series and wanted to make it a goal to finish. In Chancery and The Two Towers I added to propel me towards finishing their respective series in time. I added Ella and The Uncommon Woman because biographies are my favorite way to learn about history and I have become quite interested in the children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria. Frenchman’s Creek and Jane Eyre are on my list because both have been on my shelf for years needing to be read but always overlooked. Ryan jumped on the band wagon and added King Lear. Thanks dear.

You can see the books I’ve read thus far this year here and if you’re interested, the books I read last year here. After Christmas I’ll let you know if I was able to meet all my goals and if I’ll be setting new ones for next year. Currently, I am deciding between The Two Towers and In Chancery for my next read. Either way, I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it soon!

What are you reading?