Sacred Sustenance

So. This post has been rattling around in my head for ages now. A good long while. Months, I tell you!

My sweet friend, the ever-fabulous, ever-chic Miss Heather of Gathering Spriggs wrote a post with the same title (you didn't think I came up with that one on my own now, did you?) last year about cooking and eating that was a joy to read. It rocked my world. And I got to thinking.

My cooking philosophy is quite well reflected in what she said, actually. I TOTALLY IDENTIFY. I'm the creative, free-spirited type. I don't do well with rigid schedules and expectations.

Ritual and tradition are often hard for my free-spirited self. But more and more, I see the value in them the older I get, and am working hard to establish some rituals in our household revolving around the way we eat.

I love food. I love to be in the kitchen making and baking and experimenting. I love exploring blogs and magazines about cooking and trying new recipes. I love to break bread with those who mean the most to me. I love (a little too much, I'm sure) to eat.

So, in case you haven't noticed, I like to eat. (Maybe you haven't. If you know me, though, you KNOW.)

I talk about food a lot. I think about food more than I should. I definitely EAT more food than is *really* necessary. You might say I'm obsessed.

And you'd be (mostly) right. But I like to think about it as more of a love affair. There is something blessed and almost holy in the rite of preparing and partaking in a meal.

Our lives center around the act of eating. Everything else is ancillary. Except for breathing, nothing else (physical) is absolutely necessary. Food is life-giving. Life-sustaining. But the meal should not be consumed simply for survival. Life is about MORE than survival, right? It's about the act of living, of thriving, of being and becoming.

Food is meant to be enjoyed. I mean, what's the point of eating if it's not enjoyable? I honestly believe that life here on earth is too short to not enjoy the things that we have been given. To not savor them.  It is NOURISHMENT. Think of the word: to nourish. It means,

1. To sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.

2. To cherish, foster, keep alive, etc.: He had long nourished the dream of living abroad.

3. To strengthen, build up, or promote: to nourish the arts in one's community.

Notice how that one word is so much MORE than simply the act of consuming?

And where one's food comes from, how it is processed (or not) is, I think, almost as important as the act of eating itself.

To be clear, I am *not* talking about situations where people are starving and there's literally not enough to go around. I am talking about this subject in relation to what I know.

And as a diabetic, even more of my life revolves around food, in very powerful and mostly negative ways, sadly.

Remember when I talked about guilt in this post? Yeah.

Food and guilt go hand-in-hand when you're diabetic. More so when you're overweight and diabetic.

More about that later (because seriously, who wants to talk about the fact that they are fat?).

And so the act of eating becomes even more complicated (aside from the guilt) when you add-in something like diabetes. Because there's carb-counting, and insulin-to-carb ratios and deciding if you need ALL the insulin now, or if it should be spread out over the next hour-and-a-half. And this usually all has to happen before you can take the first bite of whatever it is you want to eat.

Diabetes involves a lot of complicated maths. Yay. I loves me some complicated maths. Fortunately, my pump does a lot of it for me, but still, there's a lot it doesn't do. And I've been doing it so long now, that it comes almost automatically. Although whenever I sit down to actually THINK it out, it takes me forty-forevers, and I'm half-wrong most of the time.

But I am so sick of the guilt, the shouldnts, the cants. Life is too damn short to not eat a doughnut once every six months, I'm sorry. People, ALL people, but especially people like me, should be able to ENJOY our food. We are constantly told how most things are bad for us - and YES, so much of what is out there, prepackaged, precooked, preheated, preprocessed using God-only-knows what - is SO VERY bad for us, but NO... NOT ALL FOOD IS BAD. And indulging (using common sense and with moderation) is good for the soul.


But as much as I love to cook and eat, I realized when I read Heather's post that I was not nearly as intentional about the meals I make and partake in as I had THOUGHT I was. Despite the love affair, I haven't made mealtime a sacred space. And that, I think, is an area in which *I* personally need to grow. And that's continued to swirl around the back of my mind for these last months.

There is a saying in the Talmud, When the Holy Temple was in existence, the Altar atoned for Israel; today, a person's table atones for him.
 -Talmud, Berachot 55a


While I don't totally adhere to this belief, I think there is SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT to be taken here. 

If we are seeking to be holy, seeking for that kedushah (holiness) of spirit, then what does our table say of that? What does the way that we prepare our meals and then take in nourishment speak of our journey toward holiness, toward becoming our best selves?

I am caught and condemned, because up until recently - today perhaps - though I had read Heather's post and have been ruminating on it, I had not thought of our food - our sustenance - as a part of becoming holy.

It has not been sacred. It has very often been rushed and pushed and inhaled and wolfed and digested and annihilated.  But it has not been contemplated, delighted in, relished, rejoiced in, enjoyed, and appreciated at all OFTEN ENOUGH.

And a lot of all this, just like everything else in life (more so with diabetes), comes down to discipline. It is a discipline to breathe the aromas and quiet the soul before partaking. To savor every bite. To practice self-control and not snarf down a whole box of Nutty Bars because the Daddy brought them home and now they're just sitting there, mocking you, begging to be eaten. To prayerfully consider snarfing down the whole box and ask God to somehow make them healthy, even if it's only for the afternoon.

I am sadly lacking in discipline in many areas of my life. But I am working hard toward learning more of it. In ALL things moderation. Something our society has lost sight of. Something I am still learning.

So what are YOUR thoughts on this subject, friends? I would love to hear them and invite a discussion. Do share!

Monday Reading, The Weird Weather Edition

In case you haven't noticed, most of the titles of Monday Readings have little or nothing to do with what I actually post. Just FYI.

However, they do tend to have something to do with what's going on or my particular feeling at the moment I start writing.


Good Monday, friends! I hope it's been a lovely one so far.

On Facebook earlier, I wrote that I love Mondays, and it's true.

I love the feeling of getting back into the rhythm of days after the chaos of the weekends. Don't get me wrong, I love the weekends, too, because then the Daddy is home and we have DAYTIME family time, YAY!

But I love Mondays. I love the clean slate upon which we write the story of our week to come. I love getting everything that got left scattered actually DONE. I love restarting the routine (such that it is in our household), and setting upon the new thing, whatever that may be.

Perhaps I would feel differently were I in a different place and tromping off to work each Monday, but for now, Mondays are simply lovely. So, a happy Monday it is for us. And you as well, dear friends, I hope!

Let me tell you, the weather lately has been wild and crazy. We were plunged back into the depths of winter over the weekend, and have been left frazzled and cold and bewildered. It was eighty-degrees and humid last week!

So here we are, and the sun is out again (YAY for sunshine!), but it's barely fifty. But I am ever-so grateful for the sunshine and happy little birds.

Anyway. Off to reading!


This week has been entirely dedicated to the reading of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  So, I am going to say a few words about it, and then move on to a couple of books KayKay has been reading. I will not do a comprehensive review of anything this week, though. Just my thoughts for now. 

First of all - I am really liking The Book Thief. More than I expected, actually, given my hesitancy at the beginning. I am more than halfway through it, and I am fascinated by the way the story is unfolding. I am really involved in the characters' lives and the layout, which gave me pause to begin with, has really grown on me.

It is not pretentious and is very gritty. Very real. I would not recommend this book for anyone under the age of sixteen, simply because the subject matter (Nazi Germany and the Holocaust) and some of the language is geared toward a more mature audience (read: there are some wordy-dirds. Which should NOT dissuade you from picking this book up, though.). 

So far, I am really liking this book. Unless it really falls apart from here, I'm likely going to be giving it two thumbs up.

Oh, and I just realized something else: it's a New York Times Bestseller.


I haven't read one in years (if ever), and then I write on here that I don't read them... And look! Two in very nearly two weeks! *Sigh* Such is life, I suppose.

So now, on to KayKay's reading of late:

As I mentioned last week, she's really into ancient Egypt right now, so I picked up (on super-sale) The Egyptology Handbook by Emily Sands. Apparently, it's supposed to go with this book, but I didn't realize that when I bought it, and it seems to be comprehensive enough without the other one.  KayKay LOVES it, and I must say, there is a lot of information packed into this little book. The layout is very appealing as well, which never hurts. I may decide to list it on E-Bay or Amazon after she gets done with it,because I'm not sure of keeping it as a permanent addition to our library, but overall, we both like it (as does the Ladybug, who seems to love looking at all the pictures, even if she can't read much of it!). 

At the library recently, KayKay also picked up this book, Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney. KayKay is very interested in women's rights and equality, so it did not surprise me when she wanted to borrow it. She really likes it and has been reading a story or two each day for school. I like the layout and the women the author chose to highlight. This is definitely a win for both of us.

So now that it's far too late and far past my bedtime, I am finally finishing up this post. So let's just move right into links, shall we?


Lots and lots and lots and lots of reading going on. ALWAYS. 

*Whispering* Dare I say it... That perhaps! I have a little bit of a problem? Too many fascinating things. Not enough time. *Sigh* God and I need to have a conversation about this in heaven, because there are simply not enough hours in the day to do ALL THE READING that needs doing AND get anything else done.


So here are a few of the highlights from this week's reading list.

Condemned To Joy: City Journal. This is a really interesting read about the nature of personal happiness and what it means.

Day 55, Discovering And Accepting Defined Personality Traits: Gluten-Free Strawberry. This is my friend Carrie's personal blog, and I just loved this post. I love what she says at the end. It is SO important.

To Change Your Name Or Not To Change Your Name, Options For Married Scientists: Women In Planetary Science. So I found this blog through the usual convoluted process, but it is a most unusual blog (and I love that!) simply because of the subject matter. And then there's this post. Wow. I had never even considered this as potentially problematic for women scientists, but I guess it is. And apparently (at least according to the comments), there's a rather heated debate about it, too. What would you do?

Meet The Ten-Year-Old CEO of a $500,000 Family Business: AOL Small Business. For those of you with budding entrepreneurs, this is a great article. Although you may *not* want to let them read it, because, well... You know how it is with kids. Next thing you know they'll want to know how many lemons they'll need to buy to make $500,000 of lemonade.

The Girl Who Is Gone: Sand In The Gears. Oh, my. This one is a tearjerker. But oh. So good.

Possibility: Sand In The Gears. And another one by him. And man, it's a good one about parenting. But it was these lines that hooked me, "I’m an analytical hypochondriacal pessimist, flavored with a dash of unreasonable hopefulness. Give me any situation, and I can tell you ten ways it’s bound to go south, and at least five of those ways involve me personally getting cancer in the process." AHAHAHA! I know someone like that (that isn't me... I promise! At least, most of the time!). 

Spinach Bacon Fritatta: Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo. Okay, so first of all, how could you NOT click on the link with a blog name like THAT? Seriously awesome. Second... I have one word: Bacon. I think I'm going to make this now. That is all.

Bookmaking With Children, Nature Journal With Twig Binding: The Magnifying Glass.  How fantastically fun is this project? We have started (but not finished) these - I know, I know, they're super easy... But we've gotten distracted and off-course - BUT they are awesome! We are probably going to finish them tomorrow, and the girls have loved picking out the pieces to make them with (we're decorating the covers a little more elaborately than in the photo here). Totally fun! 

Sarah Mast And A Nature Classroom: The Magnifying Glass. Another by her - and tell me this isn't one of the neatest things you've ever laid eyes on? Seriously, where was this stuff when I was a kid?!?! I totally want to build one for my girlie-q's! 

Art Lesson, Observational Drawing: Camp Creek Blog. Interestingly, I have recently started assigning observational drawing to KayKay as part of her schoolwork. And then I found this. Fantastic!

And last, but certainly NOT least, my friend Sherry's most recent blog post: 

Fifty Outdoor Activities Your Children Will Love: Living And Learning. This is a fantastic and utterly inspiring post about being out, in nature, with your children. 

On History

So here it is, a rainy Saturday night, after a grey Saturday day, and I'm thinking. (Surprise!)

Thinking about lots of things, but this last week, something has kind of been floating around my head and won't let go.

You see, I made a connection the other day, and for me, it was kind of an epiphany.

It's this idea of history.

So. What is history?

You know that, right? It's the long and distant past. That place that lives in the back, forgotten corners of our mind, filled with useless facts about Napoleon and Tolstoy and Cleopatra and the Civil War. It's the collective memory our nation, our people, the world.

But is it more personal than that? Of course. It's the dusty boxes filled with the things we did before moving that last time, marriage, kids, the dog. It's the closed up spaces of our personal lives, where our mistakes (and often guilt) reside.

But then I am thinking... What is history, if it is not in relation to this idea of the collective past, but it is also not the history that is our own personal story?

And I hear you thinking, "Well, Kristen, that doesn't leave you with much. You've covered THE WORLD and you've covered YOUR SELF. What else is there? And where the heck are you going with this?!?!?!"

Bear with me here.

And let me tell you the back story.

I've been batting around some thoughts pertaining to my parents' marriage (and later, lack thereof), and my grandparents' marriages and relational issues. I've been thinking about what I have learned about marriage, the roles of husband and wife in marriage, the roles of men and women in general, from my parents and grandparents and even from what I know of my great-grandparents.

Then the Daddy and I had a conversation about our parents' and our parents' marriages, and I asked him, "What do you think you learned about marriage from your parents?"

Well, he didn't much know what to do with that question, but after some deliberation, he decided that there were no major lessons which came to mind, so "Nothing."

In my mind, I ask, how is that possible? How is it possible to live with two other people for the entirety of your formative years and not come away with ANYTHING?

It's not. As a child, even if you're not paying attention, those relational dynamics are speaking to you in ways you cannot understand or imagine. And for better or worse, they will influence much of how you view the opposite sex and significant relationships in later life.

I simply think that I threw the Daddy for a loop with my question, and at some point he'll come back to me with, hopefully, some thoughts.

But anyway.

That conversation got me to thinking more. Let's bring out the psychologist wig here for a minute, because Kristen wants to wear her Freudian hair.

To what degree does our view of marriage come from the marriages we are most intimately connected to? What effect does the relationships of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents have on OUR relationship today, if any?

What connections can be made between our past and the course that our present is taking?

And this is where the "Aha!" moment came - the oft-quoted saying by George Santayana:

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

It flitted through my mind, and the lightbulb came on.

Wait... What?

This is not the far distant collective past we are talking about here. This is OUR history. The history of the generations who walked before us and bore our grandparents and our parents, who brought them up and lived out their lives before us. It is THEIR mistakes that are often repeated in our own lives.

It's not that I didn't already know this.

I did.

But I didn't UNDERSTAND it in the way that I understand it now.

Those: Me.

Who DO NOT LEARN: Take in knowledge of what's needed and put it into action to make positive change.

From History: The history just outside my own that directly impacts me - my parents', grandparents' and great-grandparents' lives.

Are DOOMED: There is no hope for any other outcome.

To Repeat It: Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, to the third and fourth generations.


To say it another way: If I do not take what I know from my family's lives and then choose to use understanding and knowledge to make practical changes in my *own* life, then I am set up to fail in every area of my life that THEY struggled with in theirs. In marriage. In parenting. In friendships. In working relationships. In character. In faith.

And this is outside of my own issues and areas that I would struggle with anyways. And it applies to *everything*.

Double whoa.

And yikes.

This is on the one hand, a very, very scary prospect.

And on the other... A beautiful opportunity.

Because I don't adhere to the whole, "Can't teach an old dog new tricks." philosophy. That's a bunch of bulls&%t, if you ask me. It might be HARDER to teach an old dog new tricks, but they can learn them! And this dog ain't old enough that she can't learn and learn and learn and keep on learning.

Because I am determined that unless God reaches down from heaven to stop me, my life WILL be different. For the better, hopefully.

I am determined to not live out unhealthy relational dynamics, but instead live in healthy ones. Ones where truth and life and hope flourish. Ones where excellence is the standard. Ones where love - good, hard, aching, growing, giving love - reigns. Ones where we work out the kinks and move on instead of stewing. Ones where our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not STUCK, the way we were. Because we learned.

And so, here I am. Looking to start (Or continue, push forward, keep going... Whatever. You know what I mean.) this journey into learning and change even more than I have ever been. And move out of the cycles of anger, and impatience, and divorce, and fickleness, and fear, and hopelessness, and impossible expectations that have driven so many of the relationships in my life and my marriage.

Yes. It is time.

Have you ever thought about it this way? Am I just covering stuff that's old hat here or what? What do you hope to learn so you can move into change? I'd love to hear!

Monday Reading, A La Tuesday Afternoon

Good Monday, happy friends! Oh, and happy Purim! It's the perfect day for such a delightful celebration!


Okay, well, now it's Tuesday, and um... This didn't get posted. Life sometimes gets in the way, you know? But anyway, here is the post that I wrote most of yesterday. Take your time, enjoy it, you deserve it!


Spring is in full blossom here, and I am so happy for it. There is nothing that quite compares to sunshine and daffodils and the gentle warmth that laces the air in early spring after a cold, cold winter.

There are so many things blooming here. My heart, not the least of them. And... Ideas. Change. Happiness. Reading. The original title of this post was Reading In Full-Bloom... But then it suddenly became Tuesday, and the title needed changing.

Anyway... I really like that original title, because it's so evocative, because it feels cheerful, and because that's really the way it is around here right now!

Lots of growing things going on everywhere. 

My last post, the one about living with diabetes, was definitely an example of personal growth. I have rarely, if ever, shared much of what I wrote. And now, it seems like that's all I want to do. I've started and stopped and thought about at least forty-seven different posts about diabetes in the last few days. So there will definitely be more of that coming in the future! I feel as though I'm putting down roots in ways I never have before with regard to living more openly as a diabetic. So... We'll see how it goes.

In unrelated news, things on the home front have smoothed and settled and ruffled and floundered in the last week. Sounds fun, yes? Eh... Yes. For the most part.

But anyway.

KayKay is majorly into ancient Egypt right now, so we've been doing and talking and reading and eating and breathing (I kid you not, and oh! I have a story to tell about the eating part) ancient Egypt. We've watched all the documentaries (thank you, Netflix streaming!).  We got and made this mummy-in-a-box thing (which is pretty cool, but doesn't come with quite enough "linen" - read: cotton gauze - so if you get it, be aware) for a VERY GOOD DEAL (at least, compared with the Amazon price!). We've read books and books and MORE books on ancient Egypt. We've gone to dozens of websites - there's a lot of really awesome stuff out there - and we've learned how to write in heiroglyphics. I say "we" here, but it's really mostly KayKay-led learning with the Ladybug and I tagging along for the ride. And I couldn't be more thrilled. This is the first subject that we've done that she's really devoured. I nearly can't keep up with her. *Happy sigh* My heart is happy in this. Yay!

I think I will do a post on what we've done later in the week. There are too many good resources not to share!

The Ladybug is also growing her vocabulary every day. She's at nearly fifty words and counting! We spent the day yesterday making simple vocabulary cards and then putting together interesting sentences. It is a game to her, and we both love it. It feels much more interactive (important for one who is constantly on the go like her) than the chalkboard we have been using. As this goes on, I'll likely write about it on here, if anyone else is interested in what we've been doing and how.

They have both been spending a lot of time outdoors, which makes this mama's heart VERY happy. Although we don't have a yard, we do have a bit of greenery and our neighbors (most of them, at least) are very obliging about sharing their spaces with us, too. I can drink my coffee (or sometimes, as this morning, tea) in peace and listen to them chatter away at everything from the shrubs to the roly-poly bugs they find. Listening to their conversations and the games they come up with is always an eye-openingly hilarious experience, too. Right now they're grunting and making caveman noises at each other, mixed together with a healthy dose of giggling. They've been doing that for the last five minutes, and it's showing no signs of stopping.

I find it fascinating that they find so little to fight about outside, but INSIDE they argue over everything. And I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Dust bunnies and old receipts are *not* exempt from this. And you think I'm kidding... I wish I were.

Anyway. Here is the post that was meant for yesterday. Enjoy, friends!


Okay, so my reading hasn't... Stalled... But I haven't finished *anything* I've been working on. Sad, I know. But this week, it's more been a little ADD. Kind of jumping around to a dozen different things. I think part of that is due to the fact that I recently placed a rather large Amazon book order and, um... I don't know where to start! So I kind of started several of them. Oh, boy.

So here's what we have:

Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer... I ordered this one for KayKay in the hopes to garner more interest in mathematics. She hasn't read it yet, but I did (at least, most of it). This is a FANTASTIC book. Here is my professional assessment (aren't I smart??) -

Pros: Very nearly everything. The stories are presented clearly, and yet illustrate mathematical principals in very interesting ways. The stories themselves are entertaining and often humorous. The selection of mathematicians is wide and varied. I am very pleased with this purchase.

Cons: The only downside I can see is that in a couple of the stories the principals that are presented are either not fully explained or too complicated for a young reader to fully understand. This is not so important to me because I more want to garner interest in the subject and not necessarily teach those principals that are in the book. However, I can see that there will likely be questions about the different theorems, and I am woefully unprepared, so I think a bit of brushing up on my algebra and geometry are in order. Hopefully I'll be able to work that out so it is agreeable to all involved. Also, this book is not appropriate for a child under the age of seven or eight, or who is not at least reading chapter books. I would say it's written at about a fourth-or-fifth grade level.

Conclusion: I would absolutely recommend this book to any parent or child who might be interested (or even NOT interested, as in our case). I think that it is most appropriate for children ages eight-to-twelve, and that it's worth buying or checking out from the library for the historical lessons as well as the mathematical. There may be more to say about it once KayKay has read it, but in the meantime, I think it's great!

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. I have put down Eat, Pray, Love for a little bit in favor of this fictional account of a young German girl in Nazi Germany. I was thoroughly intrigued by the idea of this book, which is told from the perspective of Death.

Pros: The writing is descriptive and evocative. The story is laid out in an unusual manner, and the characters are colorful and interesting. There is a good sprinkling of German throughout, which I like, often without translation, which I also like. So far, so good.

Cons: The story is laid out in an unusual manner and I'm not certain how I feel about it. The storyline is frequently interrupted, albeit with relevant information, but still it feels disjointed at times. Also, the way  in which it is interrupted - sort of newspaper headline-ish, or maybe like telegraphs, I don't know - is somewhat disconcerting.

I haven't come to a conclusion yet. I'll let you know when I'm finished with it, though!

Then there is James Herriot's Treasure For Children: Warm And Joyful Tales For Children. I read All Creatures Great And Small last year (and LOVED IT - review to come!) and was thrilled to find this version for young children on Amazon. So of course I snatched it up.

We will be reading this together soon, methinks. We are still reading Just So Stories, and I, of course, am still in the midst of Eat, Pray, Love AND Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature (my *own* copy this time, I bought it, YAY!) AND the one I just mentioned (The Book Thief) AND a couple of others that I'm not going to go into (yet!). Whew. That's overwhelming just looking at. But I'm loving it.

So. That's that. Hopefully I'll get DONE with one or two (or twelve) of them this week and can actually write a better review next week. But don't hold your breath.


This is a whole lotta links this week. And not even the half that I wanted to post! I've been going a little book/blog crazy lately, can you tell?

Tiny Poppy Seed 'Tashen: Smitten Kitchen. Well. Since I was supposed to publish this YESTERDAY, it kinda went along with the whole "Happy Purim!" theme (and springtime. Because springtime is for cookies, right?)... But then, this didn't get posted. Argh. But still. These are awesome. Seriously. Uber-tasty. Not that I've ever actually made any, but I sure have EATEN a whole bunch. Yum! 

And while we're on recipes, here's another from her:

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers: Smitten Kitchen. These are so awesome! And look like they (might) be a fun thing to make with kiddos. Or at least, to EAT with kiddos. Take some time to look around the site while you're over there, because it's fantastic. Smitten indeed.

What Would You Do With A Pot of Gold: Hands For Hope. This small, short, little story really struck me hard. Harder still because I simply *love* what this organization does, and how it allows children and youth to impact those in need. This has been on my heart to do for some time now, and so I was excited to see that others are actually DOING it.

The Ultimate Artist PSA: Create As Folk. I love the truth in this. I love the words: activate, initiate, persist, in relation to creativity.

Keep On Keeping On: Chookooloonks. This is EXACTLY where I stand on what's going on in the world right now. I had a post I was writing about it, and then I read this and thought, "I couldn't say it any better." I may still finish that post, but in the meantime, if you want to know, here you go. (Oh, and this blog is pretty awesome, too.)

In Place of Words: Pastor's Girl's Ponderings. The part where photos take the place of words? Yeah. That's the lesson I need to learn. I am drawn to this post and this blog... Perhaps there is more to learn from here? I don't know, I haven't explored it yet!

Create The Habit: Inspired To Action. Oh, Kat, you've got me again. I was so encouraged by this post, and at the same time, totally recognized my failings in trying to do TOO MUCH when changing and creating habits. Good read!

Why Anne Rice Has Never Been More of A Christian: Huffington Post. This article is searing, real and true. I was blown away by its honesty and really admire Anne Rice for what she said.

Festivus Celebration of Spiritual Art - Potter Mimi Stadler: Motherhood Is Not For Wimps. This is a fantastic look into the life of an artist and into Orthodox Judaism. I love how she brings her art into her life. I love how she sees her work in her studio as an extension of the community she lives in, and what community looks like (like, really love this). Love how ancient symbols become new through her art. And I love how she discusses what it means to be an Orthodox Jew and the importance of the seder and Passover.

Celebrate Festivus: Motherhood Is Not For Wimps. And, in case you're wondering about the title of the above post, this author is doing a whole thing on Festivus (it's kind of a FAQ, but it's pretty hilarious). TOTALLY AWESOME IDEA.

33 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer: The Altucher Confidential. This article is hilariously awesome. And I completely agree with (most of) it. There are a couple of little quibbles, but over all, in writing, much of what he says is oh-so-very true. I'm thinking of trying that whole "Take out the first and last paragraph of everything you write." Except here on my blog, there's usually not so much "first and last," am I right? What do you think of these ideas? And on writing in general?

Advice I Want To Tell My Daughters: The Altucher Confidential. I love this post. That is all.

This next site goes hand-in-hand (kind of) with what James Altucher was talking about above (the writing post):

Arts & Letters Daily. This site is really cool. I've already read some great stuff off of here, and I thought I'd share!

Epic Bacon Mac & Cheese Pie: Yummly. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and all I can say is, "YES." Oh, bacon. You get me every time.

Homeschooling For Free Or Nearly Free: Heart Of The Matter. This is a fantastic article about what homeschooling can look like outside of a full-curriculum and on a tight budget. And I will completely vouch for the thrift store suggestion, because I've (already) accumulated BAGS of books from the local thrift stores for super cheap. And what makes that even more awesome is that when we're done with them (*if* they are still in decent condition), I can turn around and sell them on Amazon and make a few bucks. WHOOOO.

Adventure Boxes: Heart Of The Matter. What a great idea! I am going to see about coming up with something along these lines for the girls... I'm thinking it could have endless usage, though, aside from simply during summertime. In my mind, this is such a great way to prepare for and do unit studies! 

Rainbow Dreams: Gathering Spriggs. Because we all need a dose of beautiful at least once a day.

And lastly, because it's me, go here and try this fun little thing. Brilliant!

Ooooooh, I gotta run, my tea's burning! Later!

The Big D

Today's post is a loooooong read. Also, be aware that sometimes I write a bit, ehm, tongue-in-cheek, with relation to diabetes. If I don't seem to take it seriously enough, I'm very sorry, but you'll need to find another blog to read for that. Okay, so go read this already and tell me what you think! 

So, like I said I would, I am actually writing a post related to this post from last week. I KNOW. It's kind of like a miracle, right?


So I thought I might as well tackle these in the order that I mentioned them... Or something.


Today's post is not really all that fun for me to write. It's honestly a bit daunting. And not a little intimidating. And scary.

But as I have never been one to let intimidation or scariness get in my way (nor am I easily intimidated, let me tell you), here goes.

I have diabetes. But you already knew that.

What you probably didn't know are the things I'm about to share.

First, some facts:

1. Insulin and blood sugar go hand-in-hand. Insulin is the hormone that your body produces (from your pancreas) to process the foods you eat, turning them into usable substances. Before that can happen, though, your body has to turn those foods into glucose. Insulin is what allows the body's cells to break down and actually USE that glucose.

In a normal person, that glucose is used by the cells in your body through the insulin your body provides before it can get to an unsafe range. In a diabetic, there is little or no insulin for your body to break down the glucose with, so the sugar basically floats around in your blood stream while your cells starve to death. Too much of that glucose in your system also allows for it to turn into alcohol (not good).

Blood sugar (or glucose levels) is the amount of glucose in your system at any given time. Everything you put into your body produces glucose. Except water. And air.

And, for even more fun, your body stores glucose and can sometimes choose to dump it into your system just because. Average blood sugar numbers are between 70-140. But one thing to note about blood sugar - after eating, though, a normal blood sugar reading is basically anything under 200.

Hypoglycemia, or "low" blood sugar is anything under 70. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) basically means that there is too much insulin in your system and not enough glucose to go around. The effects of low blood sugar can mimic drunkenness. For me, my mind gets fuzzy, I typically have a hard time finding the right words to say what I'm thinking (but that happens a lot anyway! Mommy brain! Ha!), I feel lightheaded or dizzy, and sometimes my fingertips and lips go numb.

Hyperglycemia, or "high" blood sugar is anything above 140, and it is simply the opposite of low blood sugar, in that there is not enough insulin in your system and too much glucose. The effects of high blood sugar are similar to low blood sugar for many people, but for me, they're not at all the same. I usually feel very tired, headachey, nauseated, and am extremely sensitive to everything (and therefore generally tend to turn into witchy-poo until it normalizes).

2. There are TWO kinds of diabetes. The first type is what I have, aptly named, Type 1 Diabetes. It is also called Juvenile Diabetes. It occurs in less than 10% of diabetics. It happens for reasons unknown. It does not run in the family. It is highly unlikely that my children will ever develop diabetes. Type 1 has been linked to everything from overloading on sugar at a young age to reactions to immunizations. It is a complete failure of the pancreas. Period.

I have my own theories about why I am diabetic, but now is not the time for that. Type 1 Diabetes cannot be controlled with diet and exercise, although that stuff really does help... And despite one's best efforts, there are times when waking up with unexplained and seriously high blood sugar just happens. My pancreas is useless. It doesn't produce anything.

The type of diabetes that I have is this: it is a disease that basically takes a functioning part of my body and turns it into useless extra weight. So I have to take meds - insulin... All. The. Time. Or else I die. Period.

The second type of diabetes, appropriately called, Type 2 Diabetes, tends to run in the family. It typically happens in adults age thirty-five and up, and in those who have an (seriously) unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. Type 2 tends to occur in those who are overweight and have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes.  It often can be controlled by diet and exercise and may not require medication. That is because in most Type 2 diabetics, the pancreas is still functioning somewhat and just needs a kick in the pants.  In my personal opinion, Type 2 often happens because the pancreas simply can't constantly produce enough insulin to keep up with the amount of sugar and/or other unhealthy things that are being processed by said person's body, but once they get that under control, the pancreas (many times, but not always) gets all happy again and can keep up. Sort of. It is still a forever disease, but Type 2 can often be controlled through diet and exercise (though not reversed!). There are still many Type 2 diabetics who do need to take insulin on a regular basis as well, though.

3. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease. It is related to thyroid disease, AIDS, and  rheumatoid arthritis, among other things. It is also related (hence the name) to the immune system. Which means - YAY - that as a diabetic, my immune system is seriously compromised. I.e., everything my children drag home gets drug out all over my immune system and I spend a lot of time doing fun things like coughing, sneezing and throwing up. Double yay!

Type 2 Diabetes is NOT an auto-immune disorder. Ninety-five percent of cases of Type 2 Diabetes are related to over-taxation of the pancreas. This is not what happens with a Type 1 diabetic.

4. There is no "real bad" diabetes. It ALL sucks. There are complications. Diabetes is a chronic disease. People throw around the term chronic illness a lot. Like you've been having one cold right after another for the past year, but eventually your immune system will figure it out and everything will be okay. For Type 1 diabetics, it is NOT like that. Diabetes is an ongoing battle, every single minute of every single day. Sadly, it CAN be like that for many Type 2's, but it seems that they often refuse to make the necessary changes for their bodies to naturally deal with insulin resistance.

5. (And what I think may be the most important point here:) Diabetes cannot be separated from my life. No, it doesn't necessarily define me, but it certainly does define a lot of what I do and who I have become. As Kerri's blog, Six Until Me, explains, "Diabetes doesn't define me, but it does help explain me."

In *everything* I do, I have to take into account the fact that I am diabetic.  Everything reminds me of the fact that I wear this disease like an item of clothing that I can neither remove nor mend to make it presentable.

Diabetes is the dirty and tattered rags of an imperfect body that I wear. And every day, in almost every THING I do, I am reminded that I wear them.

I am reminded by my coffee in the morning.

I am reminded with every single bite of food that goes in my mouth.

When I snap at the kids because my blood sugar is high, I am reminded.

I am reminded every time I leave the house and everywhere I go because I have to bring all my "paraphenalia" along.

I am reminded by the fact that I don't wear certain types of clothing because it's simply too difficult to wear them.

Each year, when I am sick more often and for longer than most people I know, I am reminded

Packing my suitcases around all the supplies I have to bring when I travel, I am reminded.

Untangling the tubes of my insulin pump from wherever they've wrapped themselves around me at least three times each night, and I am reminded

When I have to change my pump site, prick my fingers, pick up my insulin in an unending line at Walgreens, go to the doctor every other week to make sure everything is "okay," or take forty minutes sitting on the floor of a grocery store recovering from a low blood sugar, I am everlastingly reminded.

There is no activity that I do that doesn't serve in some way to remind me that I bear this disease the way some women bear children... Except that there is no relief. There is no birth, no joy of new beginnings. It is just the being swollen and full-to-bursting and uncomfortable and hormonal in a constant and unending cycle of wake-check-inject-sleep.

And yes, since I know you're probably wondering, even sex doesn't escape unscathed. Sex is an even more interesting feat when a bleeping pump and forty-two feet of plastic tubing and, of course - let's not forget - low blood sugar is involved. Or maybe you weren't wondering. And now you are simply to traumatized by the idea to even continue reading. But you know, I figured it would come up eventually, and I should share in the interest of full-disclosure and everything.

So ANYWAY, as they say, "The show must go on!"
And OH! The guilt. The guilt of it all. The try-and-fail of every day with this disease.

The responsibility, the heaps-upon-heaps of "Do this, do that, do these other forty things and maybe you'll live until you're 50."

The weight of it, the judgment, the looks, overbearing doctors and pitying nurses and the surprised and shocked looks - "YOU have diabetes????" And most of the time, my heart answers like this: "Why yes. Yes, I do. It is *forever*, and you know NOTHING about what it is like. So go away and leave me alone to eat my chocolate in peace and STOP JUDGING ME."

But the nice me doesn't do much but nod my head and move on.

The scare tactics, the pity, the "Oh, I know someone who was diabetic and they died." (Note: This link is how I found Kerri's blog. I cried when I read it. This has happened and continues to happen ALL. THE. TIME. And until I read this, I just thought it was something about me that caused people to say the things they did.)

The aloneness. Did you know that until three months ago, I did not know another single person with diabetes? Let alone, Type 1. The ONE person I now know is six years old. And I can do nothing but encourage him. I have no friends with diabetes. I've met a few in passing, but there is no one to talk to who "has been there." in this particular area of my life. Type 1 Diabetes is a lonely disease.

There are support groups, yes, but honestly, I wouldn't even know how to get plugged into them, and I don't even know if I would *want* to.

So there you have it, all messy and out in the open. Just the way I like it.

But I won't deny it: this was a scary post to write. And not without emotion. I have never spoken most of these words to anyone. And now they are out in the great, wide internet for God and everybody to read.

And sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy?

Just look at this post.

Monday Reading, The I'm Ready For Spring Edition

Good Monday, friends.

Today was grey and gloomy, but air smells earthy and green, and the trees are dressing themselves in their pale and delicate ball gowns - resplendent in bloom - and suddenly, I know... I'm really ready for spring time. Are you? 

But anyway, right now what I really want to know is this: WHY is it that Mondays seem to sneak up on me each week? It's not like I don't know it's coming. Seriously.

And worse, all week I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for things to put in this post! 

So here it is, Monday evening, and I haven't written a word... But all that's about to change.


So anyway.

This last week has been interesting. I've done a lot of reading (and you're thinking, "So what else is new?" but it really is quite a lot!), then sort of found a new groove (in my own life - the Daddy thinks I've been replaced by a Stepford wife or something because the house is actually mostly clean MOST of the time), been plugged back in to the local farmer's markets after being rather out-of-the-loop for the last couple of months, met some amazing new friends, and wrote this post which has started me down a path of posts that I'm excited about writing. Yay!

In other news, I'm currently listening to the Daddy play a game with the girls and there's much giggling and screeching - it's a glow-in-the-dark game for kids about vampires and garlic (it's also hilarious and FYI, I am *completely* horrible at it). I'm betting on the Ladybug winning, she's got skills.

We are not going to be taking a "spring break" so-to-speak in our household, I'm thinking. All the "breaking" to be had was in January, and you know, I'm honestly considering the benefits of (mostly) year-round schooling, at least while we're homeschooling. Thoughts, anyone? I'd love to hear if anyone else does this - I know of one person who does this, and it seems to work well for them, but we've not actually talked about it.

That having been said, today was completely and utterly useless for anything even remotely resembling traditional schooling. However, time outside and slave-driver-Mommy-makes-the-children-clean the domestic arts were highly favored.

As well as informal drama. Hours of informal drama. Actually, I kind of live in an informal drama class most of the time. I wonder if I could count all the hours spent amidst screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth and apply them toward an "extracurricular activity"? I mean, seriously, that's gotta be worth at least two full weeks' worth of school time so far! And think of all the practice she's getting! How will she know how to be utterly dejected and completely miserable without all the PRACTICE???

Not that I have any idea where she might get a flair for the dramatic or anything.

And, just for a fun mention, we had another spider episode today. This time both of them came screaming and dancing and bawling and careening down the stairs, although the Ladybug didn't even know WHY she was screaming and running, just that sister had done it, so it MUST be important and scary.

KayKay was convinced that it was a "giant mutant black widow" grown big enough to "suck my brains out." Can we say, ACTIVE IMAGINATION? Mix that up with her current (and reigning) title of Drama Queen, and if the child doesn't have a career in Hollywood awaiting her, I'll be mightily surprised.

And even better... This time, the spider was already dead. Seriously. I hit it with a shoe for good measure, while they both stared at me from up high and far away ('cause you know, it might suddenly sprout wings and try to fly at them to suck their brains out) and threw it in the toilet. Which completely grossed the Ladybug out for some bizarre reason.

RIP, little spider friend. I'm sure you probably died of fright from the screeching. Unless it was the dancing. Oh, well. Enjoy spider heaven with all your other relatives.

And speaking of spider heaven - in actual, REAL heaven, I really hope there are not spiders. Otherwise me and God are going to need to have a conversation. Because that I *really* won't understand. 


We also went to see Tangled today at the local dollar theater. I wasn't so sure about this Disney movie after seeing the original trailer for it, but OH! it was SO GOOD. And so funny!! I am so glad we went to see it! I am totally Rapunzel in so many ways. I haven't ever so closely identified (besides absolutely wanting to BE one of them, HELLO!) with any of the Disney princesses before now. I don't really know what that says about me, but whatever. She's pretty and funny and has spunk and a great personality and big dreams. If that's me, then I'm happy, whatever my other flaws may be (although I'm sure to work on them!). Here's a clip:

So anyway. That was totally fun.

Now. On to reading. Yay!


Okay, so here's the deal: I've got several books going right now, so I can't give a total rundown of any of them (except one, and I wasn't really even going to mention it on here), but there are several that I've read in the last year that I've been desperate to share with anyone who'll listen (I LOOOOOOVE to talk about books I've read or am reading!), so today I'm going to share one of those - in addition to general stuff about the other books I'm currently reading.
So first: I picked up Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert at a thrift store a couple of weeks ago. I'm not generally a New York Times Bestseller kinda girl, because really, it kinda feels cliched to me... I wouldn't mind WRITING a New York Times Bestseller, but I don't really read them. In fact, the last one I read was well-on a decade ago. Discovering that this is an OLD bestseller makes me feel some better about it, though. But ANYWAY. 

I started it. And I totally admit, I love it. It's a little new-agey for my tastes (I don't adhere to the whole "God is in everything, God is everything, the Universe is God." yada-yada. God is God. But whatever, this is not a post about my theology.), but her writing style is totally my speed and she's got an excellent sense of describing places and people and scenarios in exciting and interesting ways. And I simply *adore* the way she talks about food (I'm in the Italy section right now). It's an utterly perfect account of an altogether imperfect woman who asks all the hard questions of herself and doesn't always like (or understand) the answers. And it's messy and REAL. Love it.

Now, I haven't gotten to India or Indonesia yet, and so, I may change my mind by the time I finish with the book, but at this point, I am enchanted. For the first part, I give it two thumbs up. Best ninety-nine cents I've spent in a good long while. We'll see how the rest goes.

I also sped my way through a young-adult fiction book called Loving Will Shakespeare, by Carolyn Meyer. So... 

Cons: The whole "Shakespeare" aspect that kinda left it wanting. I had much higher hopes for it. The story was an entirely fictionalized account of the life of William Shakespeare's (older-than-he) estranged wife, Anne... But the Will Shakespeare wasn't much of a character in this book - there wasn't much Will to love, if that makes sense. The story didn't gel until the last thirty-or-so pages, and there needed to be more of it in order to make the read worth it, in my opinion. It was also a little adult for young-adult fiction, whether the word "adult" is in there or not... Not that it was all that racy, but there are several scenes where physical intimacy is either discussed or alluded to or happens outright (no details are given, though, thank goodness!).

Pros: As historical fiction goes, it is obvious that Ms. Meyer did her research thoroughly. There was a very good sense of the place and time period. The mood and feel for the period is impeccably written. The characters are pretty well-developed, and Anne's story is pretty engrossing. If it were not entangled with the name Shakespeare, it would have been much more satisfying of a read, and if you can put that part aside, it is a good book. 

Conclusion: It was kinda... Meh. Don't get me wrong, as a book, it wasn't bad. It simply didn't live up to my expectations. I'd give it two-and-a-half or three stars. 

Then there's Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. You may be horrified to learn that I had never even heard of this book until my equally horrified (and utterly delightful) friend Collette found out and bought it for me on the spot.

I have since been reading it to myself (at night) and aloud to the girls (during the day). All three of us are utterly and completely captivated. When I finish it, I will give a complete analysis, but for now let me just say that it will have a happy and well-loved home on our bookshelf for the remainder of our days.

Okay, so now the book I mentioned in the beginning - the one I finished a while back. This one is one I had wanted to read for some time now, and finally ordered it off of Amazon because I KNEW that it was going to become a part of my permanent library... And it is:

In My Hands, by Irene Gut Opdyke. This is an unbelievable book. It is the story of a Holocaust rescuer in her own words. Irene was a beautiful young Polish woman when the Nazis came into Poland, and she risked her life to help those that she could help, rather than standing by and watching it all happen. It is a beautiful, powerful story that needs to be known. I am not going to spend an over-long time discussing it, but here is the breakdown:

Cons: Very few, to be honest. My one word of caution: this is not a book to be used for younger readers just learning about the Holocaust. It is a *fantastic* story, but an edited version of her story should be communicated to younger middle-school and high-school children. There are some very adult themes that are addressed in the book, in particular about her sexual relationship with a Nazi officer, and while there are not very many details given, it is not something that needs to be shared with younger ones, nor is it something all parents will want even their older children reading about. There may be a for-school version out there that I haven't seen, so you might look to see if you really want your child to read about her.

That having been said...

Pros: Oh, my, where to begin? The writing is excellent and the story is beyond compelling. In my opinion, it simply doesn't get much better than that. In the literature about the Holocaust, this is one of those few, shining books that tells a story of hope. It is easy to get lost in the horror of the Holocaust, and also easy to want to see only the "good" things that happened, but this book is a balance - Irene Gut Opdyke bravely does great good in her life, but at a personal cost. And although it is, so-to-speak, an outsider's view (because she is not a survivor), she tells quite plainly of what she saw being done to the Jews of Poland during World War II.

Conclusion: This is a MUST-READ for anyone serious about learning more about the Holocaust, or anyone who wants to teach about the Holocaust. Her story is one that must be told, and helps put into perspective that not all Poles were anti-Semites (it can seem so at times because, unfortunately, a great many were and still are). It also is a fantastic moral story about hard choices, as well as what it means to actively choose right and righteousness in the face of great and pervasive evil.

So that's my book list (and oh, there are more, but I'm trying to keep it short!) for this week. On to links!


This has been a fun week for links. Lots of people, like me, who are *ready* for spring to be here! 
We're Going On A Colour Hunt: The Imagination Tree. While I think this post is for littler ones than what I have, I think it's a fantastic idea - and might be fun with bigger ones, too! I love the rainbow! 
Rainbow Play-Dough: Tinker Lab. Again with the rainbows! So fun. I have never yet made homemade play-dough, and I think it may finally be time. The girls would love it, I know!
Cinnamon Roll French Toast: Clutzy Cooking. While this is COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY *NOT* on my list of foods I should EVER eat... I'm suddenly greatly desiring to make this. NOT HEALTHY. *Sigh* Although of course, I would like to actually make my own homemade cinnamon rolls to make the French toast out of. So maybe I could *try* to make it somewhat more healthy? Hmmmm. And total yum! My mouth is watering at the thought. 

Tax Breaks Vs. Budget Cuts Infographic: To break with the theme: not springy at all. And definitely thought-provoking. And while I am not going to go into my own personal politics here, I will say, this infographic (shared by a friend via Facebook, the ultimate source of all knowledge necessary to the world-at-large) was hugely disturbing to me. Ugh. I really despise a lot of what happens in D.C. 

Ten Ways To Get Rid of Cabin Fever: Momtastic. I wish I had read this earlier in the day. We had some of that going on. Great ideas! 

Separating The Makers From The Followers: Scoutie Girl. I think someone I know posted this, but I'm not certain. However, what I *am* certain of is that this is a FANTASTIC read. Totally worth the time!

Skipping Meals Can Make You Healthier: Wellness Mama. This is a really interesting post and sheds some light on how skipping a meal or doing a short fast can really help your body.
Is There A Fairy In The House? A Kid's Garden Fairy House: Pink And Green Mama. Oh, MY. Do I love this. Do I totally daydream about having one of these for myself (the girls would have to have their own!). We may have to try our hands at making one. It is too delightful!

Brenna's Book Fabric Page: Design Sponge. And speaking of making, this would be an awesome project to do with kids because it's easy and versatile. This is one that *I* personally can really get into. (You know me, the easier, the better!) So I actually think I'm going to go to Goodwill simply to buy a couple of books that we can tear up!
Credit Card Art: Housing A Forest. Oh yes. And THIS one, too. So totally easy. SO TOTALLY FUN. (And no, I'd never heard of this, either!)

And just to keep you off-balance and keep it interesting, I have to throw in a couple of DIY decorating projects like these:  

Pottery Barn Distressed Clock Knock-Off: Creative Juices Decor. This is SO AWESOME. I need this woman to make me one, because A) I don't have the time, B) I don't have that kind of mad painting skills, and C) I don't have all the awesome spray paint and supplies to even TRY to have the skills. But seriously, SIX BUCKS??? Wow. 
Yes, Please, I'll Take This Chandelier: A Little Bit of Sanity And A Lot of Chaos. Again with the total awesomeness. And again with the, "I totally need you to make me one of these." But I'm definitely feeling inspired!

And last, something beautiful. Because I love beauty. And love to share. And love Etsy.

So that's that. G'night, friends. Happy reading. Happy Monday!

Close Encounters of the Arachnid Kind


We had an episode today.

It was interesting, to say the least.

As you may have guessed, it has to do with spiders. Yay.

While I don't automatically kill EVERY spider I see and generally wish them no ill when they are not crawling on me, I don't get all warm and fuzzy when they slink toward me with their eight prickly toes.

I used to be deathly afraid of them, but no longer. I have become one of the enlightened, realizing that I would MUCH rather share my home or other space with spiders than with any of the other creepy-crawlies out in the world. I mean, think about it, they EAT other bugs. I'm totally on board with that.


So this morning, we are all piled in the car at some unholy hour taking the Daddy to work. The Daddy is driving. I am drowsing in the front seat, longing for coffee. The girls are quiet in the backseat, quietly thinking little girl thoughts. It is a peaceful drive.

And then suddenly down into my vision slides something crawly. And it's not apparently attached to anything in the car. But it IS perilously close to attaching itself to my knee.Which I do *not* want.

So I calmly ask the Daddy if he will verify that it is, indeed, a spider making its swinging, careening way down a silken thread toward my knee.

He verifies. I require, rather than ask, that he (although he is driving, and YES, I KNOW this is completely and utterly ridiculous of me) dispose of the spider in any way that he deems desirable.

Now, let me just clarify here: THERE WAS NO HYSTERIA ON MY PART.

There was a bit of "Ewww, GROSS!" going on when he smacked it against the glove compartment and then proceeded to wipe the smashed spider guts on my pants. Seriously. Ewwww. Thanks, Daddy.

But as soon as the word, spider, came out of my mouth, KayKay was on high alert. It was like we'd darted her with adrenaline. Hysteria GALORE.

She immediately screeched, "Spider?!?!?! WHERE?!?!?!" 

Followed by, "It's not BACK HERE, is it???? Are you SURE??? Where is it? Are you sure it didn't run back here and isn't going to suck out my brains through my ear canal in a second??? Where is the SPIDER??? WHAT HAPPENED TO IT??? I thought I saw it!! Is it still up front? Are you CERTAIN it's not coming back here to crawl up my butt and lay its freaky spider eggs???? Where did it GO???? Oh my goodness, there's a SPIDER!!! The world is coming to an end!!! Look, I saw something move!!! Are you SURE FOR CERTAIN AND POSITIVE it's absolutely DEAD???"

And on. And on. AND ON.

We *finally* managed to convince her that the spider was, indeed, dead, and that there would be no more spider episodes in the car for a good long time or forever, whichever was longer.

And I mean, FINALLY. It took the entire drive to convince her. (The spider had showed up in the first minute or two of our fifteen minute drive.)

Fast forward ten minutes.

The Daddy has been dropped off, and we've just entered the stream of traffic known as I-40. From the backseat I hear an ear-shattering scream worthy of ANY horror movie.

Fortunately, I learned to drive with my mother, and (most of the time) have nerves of steel when it comes to screaming in the car.

I think you know what's coming, right?


Yet ANOTHER unfortunate spider came out of the woodwork and took the wrong route, right in KayKay's face.

The whole car was practically rocking with her hysterical flailing and flinging and screaming. She was certain it was in her coat, crawling up her leg and sliding down her butt-crack all at the same time.

All I could do was laugh. The screaming didn't do it, but the laughing... There I nearly had to pull over. Which is exactly what she wanted me to do so that she could jump out and do a spider dance, but I wouldn't.  

My poor child. I'm more than likely going to have to pay for many years of therapy.

The Big Three

So, I've been thinking (I do that a lot).

And I've come to realize that in two years of being in the blogging world (but really only one of actual BLOGGING), I've never really set out to explain who I am, why I want to blog, and what I am passionate about on here.

I think part of that is due to the fact that most of you, my few, wonderful, and oh-so-very dear readers, know the "real" me, so there's no need to explain. You already KNOW.

But after thinking about it, I think that it's important that I share some of these things on here, whether you know them or not.

The who I am part can wait. I haven't even figured that one out yet. I'll let you know when (more like IF!) I do.

The why I want to blog part is pretty straightforward: I'm a writer at heart, I have TONS of stories to tell (because I have loads of wacky things happen all around me every day. Just ask the Daddy, he says I attract bizarreness.), and I love my kids and want to record some of what they do in a format that will actually allow me to remember in my older, more senile, years.

So, that leaves the passions.

Yikes. That's a doozy.

I'm kinda-sorta-maybe super-passionate about EV-ER-Y-THING, or just kinda "Meh." about it all.

It's like this - when the Daddy and I first started dating, he asked me what my favorite color was, and I responded: "Oh, periwinkle! And, um, sea green. Oh! And that wonderful cantaloupe orange-y color. And violet, which is like periwinkle, but more purple. And aqua. I LOOOOOOOOOOVE aqua!"

To which the Daddy, being the Daddy, responded, "You do know what the meaning of the word favorite is, right?"

I *love* color. Almost ALL the colors. There are very few that I don't like. But, that being said, the few that are truly near and dear to my heart surround me every day in our home. They're my favorite FAVORITES.

And so it is with many part of my life. I have a lot of "favorites." But the really stand-out ones... There are not quite so many of those.

There are really three. Three things of nearly equal importance in my life.

In no particular order:

The first is being diabetic. Not the diabetes part, though. The part where I have learned about nutrition, health, insurance companies, eating habits, whole foods, regulating my intake, and how who I am is often dictated by what I eat because I AM A DIABETIC AND DIABETES AFFECTS E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

I'm not passionate about diabetes. I pretty much loathe this disease. But I cannot deny that I have learned some major lessons about life through it, and by the grace of God, have lived to tell the tale. And that makes me passionate about knowing (and hopefully, one day, actually implementing ALL the knowledge I have) as much as possible about all the things I just listed... Foods, eating, nutrition, health, the medical industry, insurance, supplements, etc.

So yeah. That's one.

Then there's Holocaust  and Jewish studies. Not your typical, run-of-the-mill subject matter, I know. But it's my THING. Seriously.

There are a lot of really interesting and convoluted reasons for this love of all things Judaic, and particularly Holocaust studies, but I won't get into them now. Suffice it to say, I am this close to converting.

Sad as it may sound, it's kind of the bacon that's holding me back. I almost wish I'd never eaten pig before, because GOODNESS... Pigs are so tasty! I mean, honestly, how could God create an animal that is SO CLEARLY meant to be chopped up and consumed in any number of delightfully delicious ways... And then decree that it is unclean and must not be eaten???? *Sigh* That one, I really don't understand.

But Jews, Jewishness, Jewish identity, the Holocaust, Holocaust education, Holocaust Survivors... Oh, WOW. I could talk about these things for hours. HOURS. Days, even. (And you think I kid... But no, it's true. I'd talk to a tree if it told me it was Jewish.)

So there's that. (And it's kind of a big that, as many of you already know.)

And then there's my family. The Daddy, the girlies. The stuff of my heart. I told a friend recently that relationships are what the foundations of the world are made up of. Nothing else matters as much as the state of our relationships - with God, with our families, with our friends, with ourselves, with the world at large... NOTHING.

Which is why I started blogging to begin with. To kind of chart these relationships in a concrete way.

So there's the big three. In three words: health, Holocaust, relationships.

And then there are the ancillary favorites, the sideline passions that still get me excited... Photography. Writing. Cooking and baking (my business included, though it has been feeling neglected lately, but that is another story for another time). Reading. Educating - myself, my children, and anyone else who might be around. GAMES (oh, just wait 'till I get to this one!). Jewelry. Interior design. Ideas.

I started blogging because I wanted a place to throw down my thoughts and ideas. To tell my stories (although I have so many, I can't seem to keep up with writing them!). To share who I am. At least, the parts that I've kinda sorta figured out. And to take the journey of discovering more through this unique medium.

And I've done a little of that, but not enough. So over the next couple of weeks (for realz!), I'm going to start blogging some of my stories about The Big Three, and why I think they are important - not only for me, but for everybody. And no, you'll never love my kids as much as I do, but maybe what I tell you about them might make you think. Or laugh. Or both.

And that's kind of the point, isn't it?

So. Your turn. What're your Big Three?

Monday Reading, The I'm Feeling Slightly Overwhelmed Edition

Anyone else know that feeling?

Yeah, me, too. Welcome to the club my friends.

It's not that I have so much to do, it's more that the day's already more than half gone, and I haven't yet finished half of what I'm SUPPOSED to do today. Including this post.

So, yeah. Overwhelmed a bit.

In other news, I'm thinking about writing a book entitled, "How to Bring Peace to Your Home By Hanging Your Children Upside-Down By Their Toenails for Fifteen Minutes a Day." I think it could be a national bestseller, right???

Seriously, if it was that easy, we'd ALL be hanging upside-down by our toenails for at least fifteen minutes a day.

But anyway.

It's already MARCH. Yikes. Seems as though the days and weeks and months are flying faster than ever.

KayKay is steadily progressing in her work, and despite fairly frequent meltdowns, we seem to be settling into a groove. And even better, she's really learning. A LOT. I can see forward movement, and it is simply awesome. That could the hormone-induced, total-drug-trip-type euphoria from the last fifteen minutes of sweet, blessed silence speaking, though.

In other words: don't hold me to it. Tomorrow I may want to run screaming from the house.

But anyway.

I don't think I've mentioned this, but the Ladybug is READING. I know! I KNOW!! It's hard to believe. And, she basically started it on her own, and after just a couple of weeks, she's learned about thirty or forty words. She can read simple sentences, and is starting to put together her own. Best of all, she *loves* it, and thinks that learning to read is great fun. Totally counting that blessing!

So. Now that it's like seven hours later and the childrens are finally in bed and I'm ready to go curl up next to them, I'll finish this thing. On to reading!


So, last week I wrote about The Scarlet Stockings, and I must revise my original statement about mature younger readers being able to handle this one... I finished the last twenty-or-so pages, and in them are some further mature themes about Daphne's biological mother, rejection and self-hatred. Included are a few colorful (although not what I consider awful or blasphemous) phrases scattered through some intensely emotional moments. 

Conclusion: I WOULD NOT recommend this book for a child under the age of 14. Also, the ending is a bit rushed and leaves some questions unanswered, besides being utterly unrealistic. I will also be editing last week's Reading to include this information.

This week, I've read a bit more in the short-story collection of How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel, and it is, in a word, simply awesome. At some point, I will actually share one of the stories on here, I think (or at least, part of one), but if you have the opportunity, and you are a mommy of any kind, I can't recommend it highly enough. Sometimes, it's just good to giggle at someone else's mishaps with the knowledge that at least it's not you

I also devoured a delightful little children's book called The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, by R. A. Spratt. Now, this is not your typical children's book. To begin with, Nanny Piggins is indeed, a pig. And she is not only a nanny, but she is a former circus pig of great fame and renown. 

Reading Nanny Piggins is an adventure in and of itself. It is the story of a pig and three children. The children are those of a skinflint lawyer, a Mr. Green, who would like nothing more than to be rid of them, but because that might cast an unfavorable light upon his character, he suffers through their presence. Their mother has died, and their father the lawyer, being everlastingly cheap, ends up hiring a pig in the form of Nanny Piggins to be their nanny. And oh! What happens after that is utter hilarity.

But I'll start with the cons: Nanny Piggins is NOT a role model. She basically allows the children to do anything and everything imaginable. The author pokes great fun at this in her witty, but be aware. 

The children are allowed to read trashy novels (although there is no explanation given as to what a "trashy" novel is), watch horror movies to ensure that they don't sleep (thus also ensuring that they stay up all night playing games), and eat candy or cakes or whatever else is sweet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each and every day. Nanny Piggins is also rather imprudent with money, and inexperienced in the world at large. And she is an habitual liar. However. In my opinion, the author does a good job reinforcing the fact that these are *not* traits that children should emulate.

There is also the fact of the dear (note the sarcasm) Mr. Green's atrocious behaviour toward his children. And a couple of scenes involving arson (although this is addressed directly in the footnotes, of which this book has quite a few). 

Lastly, the childrens' characters are not quite as fully-developed as I would have liked to see in the book. The book is truly about Nanny Piggins, and in thinking about it, the children are there mostly to reinforce the strength of her character.

Now for the pros: The writing is fantastic, firstly. The author is Australian, which, in her writing, creates a pleasing blend of British and American phrases and humour. The use of language and descriptive words in the book is a joy, too.

Second, the sheer ridiculousness of Nanny Piggins' and the childrens' adventures should delight most children, even young readers (or listeners) as young as four or five. The story moves briskly and never takes itself (or anything else) too seriously. 

As I mentioned earlier, R. A. Spratt, does seem to take pains to highlight the fact that Nanny Piggins does a great many things that are not right or quite good for children (and adults), and I definitely appreciate that.  

The children are, just that, children, and don't try to be anything more (which I appreciate in this instance). And they all seem to be fairly level-headed and have a good dose of common sense, despite Nanny Piggins' complete lack of it. 

And then we get to Nanny Piggins herself. Nanny Piggins' character is unexpectedly refreshing, not to mention completely hilarious. I love her utter audacity, her brilliance, her unequivocal love of all things unhealthy, her shrewd and calculating ability to size up any situation and make it work for her, her generous spirit. She actually greatly reminds me of someone I know and love dearly (and a little bit myself, too), which made me laugh all the harder at some of the craziness that takes place in the books. It was almost as though I'd lived some of it. 

Conclusion: This is a book that simply BEGS to be read aloud. The storyline is perfect for it, and in reading it to your children there will be plenty of fantastic opportunities to have teaching moments about all sorts of important subjects like eating habits, lying, keeping your word, treating others with kindness even when you really don't like them, thinking things through, etc. Despite the fact that Nanny Piggins does everything to the contrary of what I and most parents in the world might do, I highly recommend this book. At the very least, check it out from the library and read it yourself. It is too fun to miss!

I am actually doing some reading in other books, but I am not going to include them this week. So sorry. I'll get to them next week! 

And on to links... Yay! 


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not Catholic. 
And yet. 

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, and then it's Ash Wednesday, and now I'm thinking about Lent. 

Not like, "Oh, Lent is here, whoo, it'll be Easter soon." But instead, "Oh. Lent is here. Maybe I should do something." 

Uh-oh. Remember that post that I wrote about making change and truth - real truth - revealing itself? Yeah. I think this might be part of it. 

Now, I have NO IDEA what I might *do* for Lent (YET! I still have time!!), but... I have been doing some reading.  I think, somehow, I am drawn to the idea of sacrificing some portion of my life as a way of honoring God. 

It's so easy to be comfortable all the time. Change is slow in coming, for me, at least. And I am lulled by complacency and comfort. But to willingly choose to sacrifice complacency and comfort for Adonai, ah! My character certainly could use the refining, even in small things.  

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, boreh p'ri ha'gafen. Omaine.

So all that to say that several of the links this week are centered around Lent.

So, on we go. 
Giving Up Narcissism For Lent: Eat From Your Pantry. Wow, this is a good one. And I love how she ties it in to prayer for her son. 
Make-It-Yourself-Monday, Cream Cheese: Eat From Your Pantry. Another one from her, and WOW, I had no idea that cream cheese was so easy to make!!! I'm *totally* going to try this! I completely admit that my tree-hugger-hippy-commune roots are showing here, but still. Love it. (And just do a quick google search on the uses for the leftover whey. WHOA. Awesome. Totally tree-hugger-hippy-commune.)

Lent 2010: The Chicken Coop. I love what she says here about the mother and her sacrifice of sleep. Whew. That one stopped me in my tracks... I'm actually considering it.

I Said NO! And It's Okay!: The Unplugged Mom. This is a loooong read, but oh-so-very good!!

Rock On!: Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. I LOVE THIS POST. And I now must watch Exit Through The Gift Shop and completely emulate this poster and his family. SUCH A COOL IDEA. That is all.
The Futility of Comparison, Homeschooling Style: Harmony Art Mom. This is a great article about being who you are as a family. Love. 
Trouble Sleeping? Detoxing? Try Epsom Salts!: Health, Home & Happiness. This is a very interesting (and short) little article about the potential benefits of epsom salts (which I am already a fan of). Further cemented my position, for sure. 

Parenting Your Polar Opposite: Steady Mom. Now, while I don't consider either of my children my polar opposite, I can completely relate to what the author wrote in this post. So good.

Encouraging Children To Embrace Lifestyle Change: SimpleMom. Ooooh, this is a *really* good one. And so timely, because neither of my children likes change. And neither do I all that much, for that matter!
Parenting Difficult Emotions; Improving Myself For My Son: Fabulous Mama Chronicles. Although this author's baby is still that - a baby - she throws out some REALLY VALID POINTS about changing ourselves for the betterment of our children. Heavy, deep, and awesome. I really appreciate her openness and I can really identify with a lot of what she says. Good! 

Okay, it's been fun and all, but it's bedtime. G'night! Enjoy your reading!