The Day Before New Year's Eve

Today is December 30th, 2010.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year.

Always, before, there has been an impatience, an excitement to the realization that another year was just around the corner. A new year.

But right now, this week, even the last month, I have been wanting to put it off the newness and keep with the comfort of the old for a little while. Wanting to lengthen the hours, to stretch them and savor their moments a little longer than usual.

I don't know why I'm feeling this way - to be honest, this has not been my best year by any method of accounting. For several months there, I was convinced it was my worst, not that many people knew about that season of my life... But no, there is nothing firm or fixed that I can point to and say, "Yes, THIS is why I'm not ready for 2010 to end."

I'm just not... I feel... Unprepared. I rather wish, at this moment, that there was a month *between* December and January, just so that I could take the time to prepare. We could call it "Decembruary." Or "Janucember." Or something completely random, like "Procrastination." Or pull an Edward Lear and create a word just for that month, like "Cranowobblerism."

But no, as the old saying goes, time stops for no man - or in this case - no woman. So march the seconds, the minutes, the hours, ever forward, and unlike us humans, they turn around and look back at what has  been, they are only forward-facing, in the here, in the now. There is no introspection beyond the moment.

And maybe, that is how we're supposed to be. But we get too caught up in our past mistakes (ME!!), our past hang-ups, our PAST, that we stop looking forward and long for the momentum to end, to slow, to stop. So that we can do nothing but look and analyze and re-analyze what has been, rather than filling the space that IS.

So here, now, I make this resolution: I will savor the hours tomorrow, the last day of December, the last day before the tides of 2011 come rolling in, and then... I will make it, as in the words of Ann Voskamp, "The Year of Here." I will work hard to be me, and fill the space that is, rather than those of has been and will be

Monday Reading, The Post-Christmas Craziness Edition

Good Monday, friends!

So. I’ve kind of figured out the issue with Blogger, but I’m still frustrated at it. Lost my post last week AND didn’t ever let me post it?!?!? Argh! Stupid #$(*&@! Blogger.


Both of my children are sitting on the toilet right now (NO, not the SAME toilet), one with her Gameboy, one with a book. For some bizarre reason, whenever one gets “the urge,” the other follows suit. And then they both bring entertainment, because you know, it’s just not right to be bored whilst on the toilet. *Sigh* Should I be disturbed?

And speaking of disturbing, I just had to tell one of my children (who shall remain nameless) to “Take the turtle OUT OF YOUR UNDERWEAR NOW!” Do you really want to know more? I didn’t think so.

So it's been three Mondays since my medical debacle, and I'm *still* dragging most mornings. And noons. And evenings. Grrrr. It's been one of those things where I don't feel completely awful, just REALLY, REALLY TIRED and a little achy. And then I got a cold last week, YAY. Now I’m back to not feeling like I want to be taken out to the back forty and put down, so I haven't been focusing on it as much as I should be (bad Kristen!)... But hopefully the 32 different meds and supplements I've started taking will kill off whatever might still be in my system and I'll be back to my (much more) energetic self within the next few days. That would be good... VERY good.

I’m going to include some (actually, MOST) of last weeks’ post in here, so you’ll be all caught up for next week. Yay! And this time, I’ve gotten wise to Blogger’s wily ways and am prepared. Ha! (Insert evil laugh here.) You shall not foil me again with your dastardly deeds, Blogger!

Christmas was a good one for us here, as you might have suspected from my Christmas post. The Daddy has been home now for four days, and it’s been wonderful to have him home for so many days! We’ve had a low-key weekend, with lots of games and snuggle time and just general enjoyment.

As usual, I have about forty-seven different posts I want to write, but it always seems like Monday catches up with me again before I have the chance to write about all the other things I have stuck inside me. Always, suddenly, it's time for another reading list. Time management is not my forte. Neither is patience. Or a multitude of other things. Not that I'm complaining...

Well, actually, now that I think about it, I am complaining. I wish the time didn't seem to fly quite so quickly through my fingers and out the door. My little birds are starting to sprout their own feathers, and I'll be honest - I take no pleasure in the thought of how quickly these years have passed, and how soon it'll be that they will take flight into adventures that I can only be a small part of. I would repackage them both up into little babies again and do it all over - every minute, every tantrum, every scream and tears like rain, every brilliant smile like sunshine, and every giggle that  makes the whole world right - I would, if I somehow could.

And even as I type this, I cry, because I know the days, the weeks, the years... They grow shorter with every inch that my girls grow taller. My prayers have come to include something along these lines: "Lord, let them stay close to me, live close to me, even when they are all grown up and have their own babies, so that I never have to be without them."

...Okay, I'm back. Not that you knew I was gone, but still. I stopped myself from going into full-on bawl-your-eyes-out-because-your-babies-are-growing-up mode, dried my tears and did some things relatively useful, like surf Facebook, grade schoolwork, and put on a pot of red lentil soup for dinner.

But anyway, I've been thinking about several different topics that I want to touch on in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have, in my own mind at least, been doing some stretching, some growing, some learning. And much of that has been related to the reading I've been doing, although I’ll only give you guys a taste of that today.

I'm also thinking of doing a daily, one-or-two-sentence post, just about life, the girls, or whatever. What do you think? Good idea? Can I keep it up (ACK!)?

Anyway, on to reading. Enjoy!


So I recently purchased a book that was SO WORTH the money. It's called How To Fit A Car Seat On A Camel, and is a compilation of short stories edited by Sarah Franklin. And it's absolutely hysterical. There are about thirty stories in it, and they are all about traveling with kids. Although they are written by women from all walks of life, the recurring theme is that traveling with kids is NEVER DULL. I have laughed so hard I've cried over some of the stories… Mostly tears of recognition, because as a mother who has traveled many thousands of miles with her children, I’ve pretty much had it all happen. *Shudder*

I’m very nearly done with Illuminated… I only have like twenty pages left, but I still haven’t finished it. Yeah, yeah, I know, I should have been done with it ages ago, but the holidays have sort of taken all the wind out of my reading sails. Or deflated my reading balloon. Or… Well, you get the picture. But anyway, it’s been an interesting read.

My verdict thus far: While not the most well-written novel I’ve ever read, the writing is good and it has definitely been worth my time. The idea of a secret code hidden within the illuminations of the Gutenberg Bibles is an intriguing one, and I am definitely going to be researching the Gutenberg’s and medieval illuminations in the near future. The storyline is tight, and action-packed, keeping you on your toes pretty much throughout. It actually reads like an action movie, in some regards. There have been a couple of unexpected twists in the story that caught me completely off-guard (which is generally a good thing, unless I’m just looking for something mindless, which in this case, I definitely wasn’t), and surprisingly, there has been quite a bit more gore than I was expecting. Not like, you know, flesh-eating zombies with every atrocious detail spelled out or anything, but still a few mental images that were quite a bit more disturbing than I had expected the book to have.

I tend to avoid horror and gore in my reading and movie material – not religiously, but still avoid it, as I have too active of an imagination to fare well with much gore… As it is bloody nightmares have been a part of my life for many years, though fortunately, not NEARLY as frequently as they were when I was a child. So no horror movies or Stephen King for me, thankyouverymuch. Although I *did* read The Stand last year (after much prodding from my husband), and MAN, was that a GREAT BOOK. I may even devote a review to it, because it was over a thousand pages of (mostly) total awesomeness.

Anyway, my only gripe with the book so far is that it was over too soon… And I’m not even finished with it. But I almost am, and it’s over too soon. The info on the book says that it’s 320 pages, but it feels more like 120. It’s only 320 because the font isn’t a small one, and for me to be truly satisfied with a book, it generally needs to be at least 400 pages of smallish font. (That having been said, sometimes less is more, as with Elie Weisel’s Night. Just… Wow.) I just typically like more heft to my books. I like my books like I like my steaks, thick and meaty, with plenty to chew on, and leaving me totally sated, but wanting more in the near future. And this one has been closer to a veggie burger than a steak. Now THERE’S a connection I haven’t made before.  

I’ve also picked up and read a few paragraphs here and there out of these books in the last week or so:

Go Fly A Kite, by our own local Karen Costello. A seasoned homeschooling mom, Karen gives great and timely advice about all that homeschooling is (and isn’t) to those like me, who are just starting the homeschooling journey. A worthwhile read (although I haven’t read much of it, it’s still very good!)

Homeschooling For Excellence, by David and Micki Colfax. Although this book is a bit dated by some standards, there is some good information in it. I like their philosophy on education, and like how they implemented it. I also like what I have read thus far in it because the Colfax’s have been able to articulate in ways that I couldn’t, some of the compelling reasons behind wanting to homeschool in the first place.


Are You Making Your To Do List Too Hard? Find Out Why: Small Notebook. Love Rachel, love her blog. And as if she wasn't already awesome enough, she's moving to Tuscany. As in, Italy. Ugh. It's so fabulous, it's disgusting. Good thing I'm not the jealous type or anything. 

Saffron To Boost Your Mood: MSN Health. Yes, I know, it's MSN. Should I be ashamed? Probably. Oh, well. Interesting read, though. 

Doctoral Degrees: The Disposable Academic: The Economist. This is a really good article on the general uselessness of the modern PhD. Not that that was any great revelation, but still. I mean, please. Who gets their PhD for money, anyway? And it hasn't dissuaded me from desiring to pursue my PhD at some point in the distant future. But I guess I'm one of those dreamy-eyed humanities students who'll do it for love, not money. And that’s totally okay with me.

Healthier, Scoopable Ice Cream With A Little Stevia: Simply Sugar & Gluten Free. I'm SO excited to try this recipe because I seriously LOOOOOOOOOOVE ice cream. And I didn't know there was a way to make it quite so low-carb. Awesome! Although I may have to wait until spring and it's a little warmer than the balmy thirty degrees we have going on right now. Ice cream in winter... I don't know. 

Some of the tears from earlier were very likely precipitated by this article on EvlogiaAre You Going To Have Any More? While I don't necessarily think that the question was out of line (but I'm nosy and not known for being a private person AT ALL.), I did think that her response to the lady next to her was exceptionally beautiful and heartbreaking for me, personally, to read. 

Then I found this, the website for the Campaign for Love & Forgiveness. Wow. How cool is that? And what a timely find, in this season that is supposed to be all about love, and that celebrates the greatest act of forgiveness in history, the birth of the Sacrificial Lamb.

When I was speaking about stretching and growing, I was speaking of the fact that I have recently started reading some blogs written by several devoutly Catholic women. If you know me, you know that although I’m married to a Catholic, there’s pretty much NOTHING in my life that would qualify me for Catholicism. Ritual, blah. Rules, rules and more rules, blech. The Pope, meh. I’m all about a non-traditional approach to faith and grace and whooooooooo and dancing and all that. But suddenly, here I am, reading all these posts about the Church, priests, and faith, and I am drawn in, I am curious, and I am challenged. Whoa. Very unexpected.

Evlogia is one of those blogs. Conversion Diary is another. There is another, but it escapes me right now. I’ll post it soon. It is SUCH worthwhile reading, even if you don’t agree with everything these ladies write.

And last but not least, I found this post, from Simcha Fischer’s blog, I Have To Sit Down (yet another Catholic woman. But even better, she’s a Jewish Catholic. I love it!). It’s great, and to the point – particularly about the many ways we judge the holidays and all that they entail, and the last part is ABSOLUTELY HYSTERICAL. I’m not going to give anything away, but I LAUGHED SO HARD (and I completely agree, sorry friends).

All right. Good night. I hope you enjoyed week's reading! 

And To All, A Good Night...

Merry Christmas, friends.

Today has been a VERY GOOD DAY. I would venture to say, one of the best days we've had in a while.

I want to remember every moment of this day, to hold it quietly and let it shine in my memory, for those days when it is hard or when I am tired or lonely. I want to remember.

When I am old and grey, I will look back on these cozy winter hours with fondness, cherishing every second - the snow quilted on the ground and trees, lights twinkling, the girls giggles and shrieks as they opened their boxes of delights, the softness of KayKay's hair as I cuddle with her for a minute, a secret smile shared with the Ladybug, my surprise when I found a beautiful gift hidden for me by the Daddy under the tree. I will remember.

Today is about remembrance...  Memories made. Grace given. Perfection in an imperfect world.

Even now, we remember: the prophesy, the journey, the mother, the manger, the star, the Child.

So merry Christmas, friends. I pray your holiday was filled with golden memories that shine bright for years to come. To remember, and be remembered.

An Open Letter To Blogger, My Traitorous Blogging Lover

Dear Blogger,

I had written a fun, funny, entertaining and enlightening post. A LONG fun, funny, entertaining and enlightening post. It had links. It had book reviews. It had links. It took forever. It was awesome. Then you, Blogger freaked out on me, and LOST IT ALL.

It was fun while it lasted - I mean, I'd heard of your fickleness, your untrustworthy hangups, your willingness to flirt with disaster, but I chalked it up to part of your cute personality. Your quirks made you (mostly) lovable.

But seriously... How could you? After all the time, energy, and emotion I've invested in you, THIS is how you repay me???

If we could afford another laptop right now, I would throw this one across the room. I'm tempted to anyway. That says a lot, considering I'm not typically demonstrative when I'm angry. Or frustrated. Or agitated. Or $(*&#@@*! (Words I can't type because my children might see them.) ARGH!!! You've turned me into a monster, Blogger, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

I redid the list, even, to appease you. Not all of the list, but some. At least to have a taste of my original "Monday Reading" post. But to no avail. You would not even post one extra word for me, though I begged and pleaded and cried over my keyboard at your heartlessness.


No Monday Reading, I'm sorry. For reasons only known to yourself, you won't post it. I've saved the redone list. If by some miracle, you heartless, unfeeling Blogger decide that you are feeling magnanimous and decide not to freak out later tonight, perhaps I'll find my way back into your good graces and be able to post it. Otherwise, it'll have to be Monday Reading on Tuesday. Or never, depending.

Right now, Blogger, I hate you.

Take me back, and maybe I can learn to love you again.



Monday Reading, Snowy December Edition Redux


It's Monday again, and there's snow on the ground. It snowed all day yesterday - big, fluffy, cotton ball flakes that conjure all the winter daydreams you've ever had and make the world suddenly seem so perfect, and so beautiful. It snowed all last night, too. And when we woke this morning, the sun was bright and everything was crystalline.

 It was dazzlingly beautiful. Or pulchritudinous, if you're like the Daddy and are a walking thesaurus.

School was canceled today, and SURPRISE! It's canceled tomorrow, too. Not that that matters for us, because we homeschool, but still. Fun to know.

The girls had a blast yesterday afternoon and this morning playing in the inch or two of snow that we got... The Daddy and I stayed inside, bundled and warm, and watched them lick snow off of every imaginable surface. Yum. I call it "immune-system-building" and am sure not to watch if I can possibly help it. Although it seemed like every time I looked at them they were licking snow off of something else. Including, but not limited to, the rocks on the GROUND.

But they had fun. Crazy, running around, snow-throwing, miniature-snowman-building (does that make it a "munchkinman" - think "Wizard of Oz" or some such thing?), I'm-too-cold-because-I-didn't-put-on-enough-clothes FUN.

Anyway, I'll get to the "reading" portion of this post, as I had a major allergic reaction to something yesterday and am still not fully recovered and will therefore, be going to bed SOON.


I finished Hood last night. It was good. The writing was good, the historical setting were obviously thoroughly researched, the characters pretty well-developed, and the twists on the age-old story interesting, although there were too many ideas that were "rejected outright," in my opinion. Lawhead, find another way of having your characters reject an idea. Four-to-six times, even over 450 pages, is simply too much redundancy for me. Other than that, no gripes. 

My favorite character was Tuck, who is, to put it simply, AWESOME. Totally my kind of priest. 

It leaves you hanging, though, so off to the library for me in a few days, to grab the other two in the trilogy and start devouring them. It is definitely worth picking the other two up. Not the most riveting book I've ever read, to be sure, but solidly well-written historical fiction, certainly. Out of five stars, I'd give it a 3.5. 

In the meantime, Illuminated has arrived, and I started it immediately after putting Hood down. I'm only 20-ish pages into it, but so far, so good. The story has already grabbed my attention, and in my drugged-out state last night, that's a feat in and of itself. I'll expand more on this after I finish it. 

I ordered the first three of the Books of Ember (link is to The City of Ember, the first book in the series) for KayKay for Christmas... And it's all I can do not to snatch them up and start reading them now, before she even has a chance to look at them. But I can't. I'll be a good mommy this time... But the movie was SO GOOD that I was thrilled to discover that it was based on a whole series of books! If you haven't seen the movie, City of Ember, please do. It is such a good, captivating and wholesome story! If the books are anywhere near as good, they will prove to be fantastic. 

So yeah, after she opens them, all bets are off. She may have to wait in line to read them then (not that I think she'll mind - she has a pile of books as high as my own on her nightstand, and she's currently, and happily, immersed in the Happy Hollisters series by Jerry West...).

And speaking of the Happy Hollisters, which are from the 40's and 50's, are generally sweet, happy little mystery stories (think Nancy Drew for younger ones)... Yeah. So let me give you the back story. (I know, I know, we'll get back to the "reading" part in a minute!)

My mom discovered the Happy Hollisters series when I was a kid. Being the voracious reader that I was, she could hardly keep me stocked in books. Our local library was pitiful, and as she liked to screen most everything I read, but couldn't keep up with me, we would often frequent the local thrift stores. There, I would find whole, entire sets of old children's books from the turn-of-the-century through to the 50's and 60's for TEN CENTS EACH. Mom figured that they wouldn't have anything objectionable in them (and she was right!), and they kept me occupied for many happy hours. And then when I was done, she would donate them right back to the thrift store.

Nowadays, that thought makes me ill. IF I can find any of those books at all, it's on Ebay, and the cheapest ones are generally no less than $1.50/book. Many of them are impossible to find, or impossible to find complete sets of.

So when KayKay was a toddler, I found a nearly complete set of the Happy Hollisters on Ebay for, I think, around $25 for 26 books... And promptly bought them. I didn't do much more than flip through them when I got them, because they were intended for KayKay and the Ladybug to read, and as I'd already read them, there was no need... Well, I wish I'd paid greater attention at the time.

KayKay recently started reading them - she'd read the first one about a year ago, but I guess she wasn't ready for them yet, because she didn't want to read any of the others, but now I can't keep her out of them - and mentioned something to me about the girls having things drawn on them. Well, when I go to investigate, I see that in nearly all the illustrations through the book, the girls have BOOBS drawn on them (anatomically correct BOOBS, too.) AND, if that weren't bad enough, in some cases, pubic hair! ACK. Forgive me, Lord, for this, but why the blankity-blank-blank did I go to all the trouble to BUY the darned things if they were going to be practically graffiti-ed into porn? It's not, but that's not the point.

The whole thing smacks of adolescent young boy rebelling in his own "fun" way to me. Argh. Sorry, friends who have boys. I could be judging wrongly, as I only have girls, but from what I know of ten-to-twelve-year-old boys, the theory fits nicely.

Fortunately, KayKay doesn't seem too bothered. Perhaps it's the fact that most of the women in her family are relative nudists, or that her sister runs around in nothing but gloves and high heels half the time, but she actually thinks it's funny and doesn't seem to be uncomfortable with it at all. So, we roll with it. BUT STILL. *Shaking my head* Argh!

ANYWAY. Back to reading.

So that's the books... Not much this week - hopefully more next week!


As to links, there are all kinds of fun things going on... Enjoy! 

Been reading up about Vitamin D deficiency. Very interesting. This article on Dr. Tenpenny's website provides a lot of great information. This is also another very good source for information on the subject. We've already started taking supplements, if that gives you any idea of what I'm thinking. 

This is a pretty hot-button topic for a lot of people, but I've also been doing some more research on non-immunization. I'm not looking to get into a debate about why I should or shouldn't immunize, because my kids are not, and they may never be. I won't say for certain, because I'm not certain, but that's where it is... And the more research I do, the more strongly I feel that I've made the right choice. So my kids aren't immunized. And they're pretty darn healthy. Healthier than many kids I know, actually. There are a lot of reasons for the choice not to immunize, but the main one is personal. I am that one-in-one-hundred-thousand that is severely allergic to immunizations. After multiple hospitalizations as a child, it was finally discovered which one was the most likely culprit for my weeks of lethargy, super-high fevers, and difficulty breathing - the tetanus vaccine in the DTaP. And adverse reactions to immunizations has been known to later cause Type 1 Diabetes in children. And GUESS WHO is a Type 1 Diabetic? I'll give you three guesses, and two don't count. 

But anyway. Been doing research, and came across this article, which is about, interestingly enough - the DTaP, tetanus, and even has a blurb about Diabetes (although not in relation to what I wrote above). It is very interesting reading, whether you agree with it or not. 

This is another article I've started (but not yet finished, ACK!) about the "required" Vitamin K shots they give newborns. I personally, am somewhat horrified by this article, as the Ladybug was given the Vitamin K shot without my consent or knowledge when she was born (my mom witnessed it and had a hissy fit). 

But on to less disturbing stuff... I've been looking at some different ideas for making an Advent calendar for this time next year... I'd hoped to make one this year, but didn't get to it. I found some ADORABLE ideas, as follows: 

Little Birdie Advent: Skip To My Lou (OH. MY. GOODNESS. Do I love these little birds!!)

Advent Calendar Cones: The Red Thread (So beautiful. SO easy. Love.)

Then I found this non-fiction piece that was recommended by a Facebook friend. Very interesting. Worth the read. It has nothing to do with the holidays, but whatever. It's the internet. 

Then, of course, looking around for homeschooling stuff I found this interesting site on teaching reading... I don't know that this would work for us, but it's a unique idea nonetheless.

We recently ordered the Miquon Math (link is to the Yellow Book) set for KayKay... SO EXCITED to get it. I've heard nothing but good things about it. And we already have the Cuisenaire Rods, so that was a total bonus!

I also found this site (on reading, and teaching reading), which has some very useful information.

I've also been looking at this game, Frog Juice (which may or may not make the cut), and I am pretty certain we are going to end up purchasing Sleeping Queens at some point. Sleeping Queens was created by a little girl, and the illustrations are SO CUTE... What's not to love?!?!

A game company we're interested in was reviewed by Homeschoolers Magazine recently. That article is here... We are looking to get the game Erosion (link is to a Power-Point-type narrated overview) from them. It's not quite as heavy as some of their other games, but still very educational, and looks fun.

I've also been reading my dear friend, the brilliant and fiery Collette's blog, Strong Opinions. Don't you just love the sub-title?!?! I do... And I love it, Collette! Although I need more of your hilarious and fabulous witticisms in there!!

Read this - Laundry: Planted By Streams - and remembered... I need to choose joy. So simple. So complex. And of course, she uses LAUNDRY as her example. Of course.

Anyway. It's now MUCH LATER than I anticipated it being when I started this. I wrote much, much, more than I'd intended. Going to sleep. Enjoy your reading, friends!

B Is For Ballet And Saturday... Or Something

Good rainy Saturday evening, friends. I'm about to pack it in, but I thought I'd share a few little nuggets before I do...

It's been a wet and gloomy day here, but perfect for our purposes: a whirlwind morning preparing for this afternoon's AMAZINGLY FABULOUS performance of "The Nutcracker" by the Nashville Ballet. Then the performance itself...

The timeless music. *Swoon* The gorgeously glittering gossamer costumes (I'm sure there are more "G" words, but I can't think of any right now). *Double swoon* The perfectly choreographed dancers. The grace which with they move. *Swoon, swoon, swoon* Be still my heart. It is simply so beautiful, I can't even put it into words.

The Sugarplum Princess at the Nashville Ballet*

The MOST beautiful part, for me, though, was watching the girls. It was the Ladybug's first time to the ballet, and watching her and KayKay sit on the edges of their seats, utterly enchanted, brought tears to my eyes. They loved every minute of it (as did I) and as soon as it was over, KayKay was asking when we were going to see it again. Ha! The child cracks me up. 

So a decidedly wonderful time was had by all, AND we got to share it with some sweet friends, my delightful friend Miss Olivia and her darling little Abby... So fun!!

On another note, I also wanted to share a few links I've discovered over the last couple of days. I'll be honest, although this is the age of the internet and shared media and blah, blah, blah, I don't often WATCH videos online. It's weird, I admit it. Part of it is due to the slow and agonizing death of my computer, which means that most videos get all jacked up when I try to watch them, but another part is that watching videos generally requires me to stop flitting about and actually pay attention for more than 30 seconds. Which in and of itself can be agonizing at times (for me, at least!)... And me being me, oftentimes that 30 seconds is all it takes to COMPLETELY derail my train and leave it's smoldering ashes somewhere in the woods of Forgottenland, never to be found again. 

And speaking of derailed trains... 

ANYWAY. All that to say, I am breaking habit and have not only WATCHED the videos in this little list, but have found them compelling enough to share... 

First... So while I don't actually agree with this crusty old dude's philosophy (phonetic spellings are cute when you're 6, not when you're 60), his presentation is pretty awesome. Especially considering what you find out at the end. Check it out! 

Then my hubby clued me into this nifty little video about folding fitted sheets. Now... That's totally WORTH 30 seconds. I could kiss this woman, for she has just made my life SOOOOO much easier!

Then there's this post, by blogger Dan of Single Dad Laughing, about... Well, wedding cake and dog poop. With a twist. (Intriguing, isn't it? You KNOW you want to click on the link now, huh???) Man, this dude is right on about a LOT of things. I'm a frequent lurker there, and although I don't always agree with what he writes, I can't deny that there is a lot of poetry and power to much of his writing... And in this particular post, he's hit on some things that are big, red buttons for me. But I don't want to give anything away. Maybe I'll write more about it another time, though. 

And for one last video and link... This will blow your mind. Another one the Daddy showed me, I was and still am completely blown away by the video (and following Wikipedia article) about this device. You really need to read the article to truly appreciate it, but still... It's just... WOW. 

So enjoy, friends!

*Note: Photos above are not mine! 

Because I Love Them

It's late, and I'll be honest - I feel as though a steam-roller has run me over, followed by a semi or two. Or twelve.

But because I love them so, I must post this... My dear friends, The Lovespies (who apparently haven't updated their blog recently, but no matter, they're still fabulous), just finished recording a holiday album...

And released this song for preview. AND, they featured their sweet little butterfly in it! AAAAAH! It makes my heart get all fluttery.

Love, love, love. LOVE. Had to share.


Monday Reading, Snowy December Edition

This post got put off due to some unhappy, unexpected medical issues. They are now resolved, and it is now Tuesday at oh-dark-thirty AM. Oh, well. We can pretend it's still Monday morning, right?

It's snowing this morning - big, beautiful flakes that catch the light and dance with them. I had a ROUGH night last night, to say the least, so I'm getting a slow start this morning, still cradling my coffee in one hand as I watch the flakes twirl and pirouette outside our window.

There was much screeching and delight from the two little girls who inhabit this space upon discovering that there is actual, real snow falling outside. In her exuberance, my delighted and delightful little KayKay completely forgot that snow is COLD, and ran outside in a light shirt, sweats, and BAREFOOT. *Sigh* And of course, the Ladybug was at her heels, still dressed in her nightgown. Fortunately, I didn't have to do anything but sit there and wait. Sure enough, twenty seconds later, they were back in the door, looking shocked and exclaiming, "It's COLD." Well, uh, yeah.

Then there was the mad rush to go upstairs and get appropriate snow clothes. We're now on the third round of adding more layers. I've not offered much help in that department other than to encourage more clothes each time. Bad mommy, I know... But like I said, last night was rough. And they'll figure it out, they're smart kids.

I hope the snow sticks, though - it's been a long time since we've had a Christmastime snow, and there's simply nothing quite like enjoying snowfall this time of year.

Anyway, on to the "reading" part of this post.

Like I said yesterday, I've got loads to share. I don't know I'll even get to it all today. Let me swig down the last of (this cup of) my coffee, and I'll get started.


Since I last posted Monday Reading, I have completely finished the Gideon Trilogy (a la, The Time Travelers, The Time Thief, and Time Quake) by Linda Buckley Archer. Which is well over 900 pages, if you're counting. Not that I am, or anything. It's been a fun ride, though. I love, love, LOVE the first two books. Totally worth the read... The third book, while it is a good read and ties up everything nicely... I don't know, it just wasn't quite as good. It ended exactly as it should have, which was not really the ending I wanted. Being me, I wanted everybody happy, and in essence, they were, but not in the way I wanted them to be. So just be aware, if you're like me, the last book might not quite live up to your expectations. But definitely good reads, all three of them. The Time Thief is equally as compelling as the first book, though. I would not, however, place these books into the hands of my eight-year-old. Perhaps when she's at the twelve end of the eight-to-twelve reading level, but not before. There is nothing questionable in the content (except for one scene in the last book, Time Quake, in which a peripheral character dies, but it is not graphic at all, just very sad), it is simply too mature for my KayKay as of yet. 

I've also been reading snippets of Pablo Neruda's The Book of Questions. It was required reading in one of my creative writing classes, and to put it simply, it changed me. Reading this slim volume packs a punch. My writing and the way I consider the things my eyes behold have been forever altered through reading Neruda's poignant, eloquent, beautifully penned questions. One of things I love most about it is that it literally is a book of questions. There are NO answers. And I love that. The answers are wide open possibilities. This is, quite possibly, my favorite book of poetry ever. I mean, read these few of my favorites, and tell me they don't make your heart break and sing all at the same time: 

Which yellow bird 
fills its nest with lemons? 

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots? 

Is it true our desires 
must be watered with dew? 

Why does the professor teach
the geography of death? 

Do tears not yet spilled
wait in small lakes? 

What will they say about my poetry
who never touched my blood? 

Who shouted with glee 
when the color blue was born? 

Ah. Beautiful. These are just a few of the questions from the first pages of the book. If you haven't picked it up, DO! 

Although I haven't read it yet, I am waiting on Matt Bronleewe's Illuminated to come... It looks interesting. It's apparently similar, but NOT THE SAME, in theme to The Da Vinci Code, except without all the blasphemy. Ha! Although it's rather sad for me to admit, I did read The Da Vinci Code, and was not very impressed. The idea of the riddles and the mystery was thoroughly compelling, but the "major revelation" was not. It was laughable, in my opinion. (If you loved it, forgive me. We can still be friends.) Brown might as well have introduced space aliens (because when you run out of original ideas, there are ALWAYS space aliens. Or Jesus having an illegitimate love-child with Mary Magdalene. You know, whatever.). However, this book, Illuminated, looks intriguing. I hope it lives up to my expectations... And not Dan Brown's space aliens. If not, it'll be re-listed on, and you'll hear all about it. Well, you'll hear all about it either way.

A friend of mine gave me - ages ago - Hood, by Stephen Lawhead. I've FINALLY picked it up and am about fifty pages into it so far. I've read Steven Lawhead in the past - a number of years ago, actually - and liked his stuff, for the most part. I stopped reading him some years ago because I wasn't that much into his writing, but so far, this is a very interesting take on the story of Robin Hood. I'll let you know how it develops. 


It being the holidays and all, I've been reading a lot about gifting and Advent and Hanukkah and all kinds of other fun things. Enjoy! 

A Jesse Tree Devotional: Planted By Streams: Like this blogger, we too are following Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Devotional. I am planning on making these ornaments in the next day or two - I have the supplies, but don't know if I will get to it today or not. 

Two Favorite Fall Projects: Planted By Streams: I love this idea! We will be making coffee filter leaves next year, I think. 

And one more from here... Art Boards: Planted By Streams: These are awesome. I totally want some for the girls! 

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves: This blog is very interesting and gives some great inspiration and ideas for older books to look for at thrift stores and online.

I would LOVE to post what I'm going to make for holiday gifts on here, but I can't (Sorry, Dad, you won't find out for a few days yet!), so instead, I'll post some of the OTHER things I've been looking at to make. Starting with Rhoda’s Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce: The Kitchn. Yum-O. Unfortunately, I don't think this would ship well... But I am still thinking of making some anyway.

Then there's the Roasted Garlic Lemon Mustard: Local Kitchen. Wow, this looks amazing. This is definitely a project for another time, but I'm filing it away.

And how about Candy Cane Syrup: Storybook Woods?? Does the name of of THIS POST on THIS BLOG get any more fabulous? I wanted to make it just from the name... And then I read the post, and I wanted to make it even more!

And then I found The Thankful Jar: Little Birdie Secrets. Perfect!&

I can't divulge where I got this Wikipedia link from (as it also has to do with gifting), but I thought this tradition was absolutely delightful. Does anyone else want thirteen desserts now, too? Seriously, the French know how to do a whole lot of things right. Despite what SOME PEOPLE might think. Ahem.

How could I not want to make apple butter with this, Carolina Braunschweig's Apple Butter: The Wednesday Chef?? Looks wonderful, doesn't it?

You must think I'm hungry by now (which I actually am, but that has nothing to do with it), but actually I've been looking at these different links for days... Anyway... Enjoy, friends!

ARGH! And Bah-HUMBUG... Oh, Hello There!

Can we say, "Not ready for the holidays????" Argh! My life and my computer have conspired against me to not be able to post for quite a few days longer than I'd anticipated. So sorry, friends.

Mother Winter has settled in for her annual visit whilst I have been away, and shook out her silver-grey shawl all over us today. Slate skies, trees shivering in their undress - and yet unashamed, glittery snow flurries all around. It was a good day to settle in with a cup of tea and a good book (which, alas, I did not get to do. But I have been reading a lot lately, so it's okay...).

I *had* plans to post a few Halloween photos over Thanksgiving weekend. Ha! Lightroom (or more precisely, my dying computer in general) decided it wasn't going to play nicely, and I've only JUST NOW been able to get to them and edit them. I mean, it's only been five weeks, right? And seriously, WHERE has the time gone?!?! Five weeks, and it's already December!!!

But if we talk, even on a semi-regular basis, you'll know that my computer has been on its last legs for some time. It keeps wheezing through the days, with increasing slowness and frustration on my part... So yeah, Lightroom was its most recent victim. I've finally been able to reconnect, but I don't know how long it'll last, so we'll see.

But I have so much to tell! It's been crazy-busy around here lately, and interesting, to say the least.

But first, please check out my other page, The Flour Girls, particularly the "Holiday Specials"... We are doing some exciting things for the holidays!

I'll be back on track with my Monday Reading series tomorrow, I promise. And I have some very interesting reading to share, so be sure to stop by!

In other news, KayKay has battled - and come out mostly victorious, although, poor kid, she's still seriously itchy - against scarlet fever, business is crazy - mostly crazy good, we still have (what feels like) 32 pounds of turkey in the freezer (two meals a day for over a week, and we're still not tired of it... Well, the kids have started complaining, but they'll live.), the Ladybug has mentioned marrying one of my mother's goats (OH, BOY. Now there's a turn in conversation I wasn't expecting. Let's hope the idea doesn't take hold.), and speaking of goats, the selfsame goat that my daughter wants to marry has fathered seven, that's right, SEVEN kids, all of which were born this past week. Again, if I haven't mentioned it before, the whole child-goat marriage thing is rather disturbing. I'd rather not satyrs for grandchildren. So yeah... We'll be working on that.

The Ladybug confused Hanukkah with her harmonica earlier this evening. We were talking about our menorah and the Hanukkah lights, and next thing we know, she's running upstairs to get her harmonica. Apparently, she thought we wanted a concert.

She also confused Advent with something equally as amusing, however, my addled mommy-brain has already filed it away under "Forgotten." If I remember, I'll post it here.

Homeschooling has slowed to a near-crawl due to the scarlet fever thing with KayKay. Poor kid. It was an exceptionally mild case, but it's been well on two weeks now and she's still easily tired and kind of dragging at times. So we've been doing a lot of reading... A LOT of reading... With a little math sprinkled in for good measure. I'm okay with that, and she seems happy, but at some point we'll need to pick back up history, geography, language arts and science. I think we'll start easing back into it tomorrow, but we probably won't go super-heavy into anything until after New Year's. At least, that's the thought...

I am excited about some new materials we'll be trying, though, and also about the fact that she finally, FINALLY admitted that she really, truly does love homeschooling. She even went so far as to say she didn't know if she'd choose to go back to "regular" school. That's a big deal for me, because most of the issues we've had with homeschooling thus far have been the fact that she has really missed her friends at "regular" school.

However, one of the major reasons we ended up pulling her out of school was precisely because of those friends. Seven-year-old CHILDREN should not be having conversations with each other about sex, I'm sorry. I don't consider myself a prude, but at that, I must draw the line. I haven't really gone into our reasoning behind choosing to homeschool on here, but for me, and I can say pretty certainly for the Daddy, too, the increasingly negative impact that her school friends were having on KayKay was a big motivator. We watched our daughter go from sweet and (mostly) compliant to defiant, mouthy, and belligerent. And over-informed by UNINFORMED sources. Ugh. Besides being constantly inundated by requests for everything from certain types of clothes and toys to a CELL PHONE. Puh-leeze. The child lost her mind for a time...

But she's slowly gaining it back, methinks. There have been plenty of living room reenactments of "The Clash of the Titans" between her and I in recent months (which begs the question, then... Am I the dragon monster???), but it has gotten much better, and she has consistently progressed in her work. Her writing, logic, and mathematic abilities are impressive (at least to me!), and I am amazed at watching her how she is constantly learning. It's a beautiful thing to watch, and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to shepherd my sweet girls in their education.

The Ladybug, having not known school, and whose idea of "school" lives somewhere in her imagination, is much easier to please - although I am noticing trends with her, and how she learns. She is best with imaginative play (as many children her age are), and also with hands-on activities. She doesn't even like to color much, but in short bursts, so I have to change it up a lot. Stick-to-it-iveness is not one of her strong points, and something we'll be working on. I am constantly encouraging both girls, but particularly the Ladybug, to "do your best in everything." Being the baby (and riding on that, OFTEN), she frequently tries to skate through things by doing only enough to get by. Granted, she's only 4, but still... Striving for excellence should start early.

Anyhoo, I didn't intend for this post to turn into a homeschool post, but it kind of did. Oh, well. It's late, and we have school tomorrow. And baking. And blogging. Amongst other things. Going to bed now.