Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Book List

:: 2018 Book List & Community Activism ::

   I sat down over Christmas break and began to organize and write down a list of books I want to read in 2018. It is a kind of challenge to myself, read more and scroll less. I want to really work on reading more works of fiction and non-fiction so in turn I stay off the social media sites. The habitual mindless scrolling is not the best use of my time. There will never be enough time to read everything out there and it is exciting to have the writing at my fingertips online, in bookstores, or at the library. Making a book list keeps me honest and reminds me not to miss out on a great read. I also want to write little reviews of the books I am reading. I want to give people a little insight into each of the books because I know it can be hard finding a good book. I am completely onboard with stopping a book if it isn't what I want to read. Life is too short to read something you don't like. The list is ambitious to say the least but we will see what happens. 

My other goal is to get more involved with the community now that we are living in a new town. I joined the local chapter of my affiliated political party and I am hoping to attend lectures and talks of their speakers. I am volunteering at my girls schools and at the local arboretum. I have the privilege of being home right now and so I want to use this time to my advantage. I also think it will be a good jumping for point future career options. You never know what opportunities lie ahead. 

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
-Gandhi 



2018 Book List 
(subject to change and open to all recommendations) 

The Seagull- Ann Cleeves 

Little Fires Everywhere- Celeste Ng

Origin- Dan Brown 

The Snow Child (re-read)- Eowyn Ivey

The English Wife- Lauren Willig 

Anne of Green Gables- LM Montegomery 

The Jesuit Guide (to Almost Everything)- Fr. James Martin 

The Radicalism of the American Revolution-  Gordon S. Wood 

Unformed Landscape- Peter Stamm 

Alexander Hamilton- Ron Chernow

The Turn of the Screw (re-read from high school!)- Henry James 

The Omnivore's Dilemma- Michael Pollan

Hold onto your kids-  Gordon Neufield 

No Life for a Lady- Agnes Morely Cleaveland 

Liturgy of the Ordinary- Tish Harrison Warren and Andy Crouch

Upstream- Mary Oliver 

Collected works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the World and Me- Ta-Nehisi Coates 

The Sea- John Banville 

The Mystery of Udolpho- Ann Radcliffe 

A Man Called Ove- Fredrik Backman 

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry- Neil deGrasse Tyson 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Snow Days

:: Snow Days ::

At the end of last week we had a snow storm visit us. The cold took hold of us the weeks before and  I knew it was only a matter of time before we had snow. The kids have been off of school since then. The frigid temperatures, snow, and heavy winds had made most of the roads around these parts near impassable at times. We tried to take a walk out in the snow near our home but that was a short lived venture. The wind and snow made it so uncomfortable that after a lot of complaining we decided to just give up and go home for an evening in front of the fire with hot chocolate. I am certain it took me longer to dress everyone then we spent outside. 

Friday afternoon we braved the temperatures and wind to head out to run a few errands. We grabbed some paint for our first project of the year in our house and Miss E got her ears pierced! I had been promising her for weeks that we would head to the mall and get it done. She was building up the courage because she was afraid that it would hurt too much. I have been so impressed by her diligence in taking care of her ears as they begin to heal. I think we are entering a new phase of parenting around these parts. She is becoming an older girl by the day. It seems like yesterday she was just a little toddler. 

Saturday we prepped the office/studio for painting. It was a light green when we moved in and I was not a fan. We decided on a very light gray that seems a bit more professional then a baby room green. It turned out beautifully after we had finished. My husband was under the impression that I was good at painting trim. Oops. Not so much. After a lot of touching up and several hours of drying we put the room back together. I just love it. Every modification we make to the home just makes it feel like ours even more. After living in rentals for years it is so fun to imagine, change, and do little projects in our home. 

On Sunday it seemed like we turned a corner in the weather and I really thought we would get back into a routine come Monday morning. However, the roads were still bad in some areas and with an impending ice storm they called school out again. This morning when the phone rang at 5:30am I couldn't believe it. Snow Day #4 for the kids. I feel for the school system because no call will ever make people happy. Someone will always complain. 

So we have been making the best of these last couple days and we are super caught up on the weekly homework assignments, reading, and even brushed up on some math skills. I won the "mean mom" award for making them do the work but I know that it will make the transition back to school easier tomorrow. A little routine during these crazy winter days. 

Until spring arrives, I will just pour over the seed catalogs and dream of warmer days. 






new office/studio

my brother stopped by after a hunting trip and made the kids day by playing dog bingo with them 


Thursday, January 04, 2018

A New Year-- A Year Revisited

A New Year -- A Year Revisited 


Metamorphosis. 

The past year of our life has been spent transforming, struggling, growing, and changing as a family. We bounced around in our townhouse rental waiting for the right home to appear.  We struggled with trying to find the right home and finally in August found the homestead on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The struggle to make everyone comfortable in this new town was real every day. New commutes, new neighbors and friends, new schools, new church, and a new rhythm to our life.  The children began to find their way in school, making friends and excelling in their schoolwork. My husband is working from home on a regular basis while commuting less. It is so good for his physical and mental health. No long commutes every day, no traffic, and no burn out. All the years of moving, deployments, renting home after home seem like a distant memory now. Our home is really and truly ours. Contentment reigns in our hearts and minds. 

The last year has brought about many changes in our family. Aside from the biggest of moving and buying a home, we have had other changes. Two of our children are in school with only one at home. I am beginning to focus on what I want out of life. Who am I? What do I want? Motherhood is entering a different stage and with more free time to focus on my own growth. I am beginning to wonder what I want to be. Will I go back to teaching or will I take a different path? What educational opportunities can I take advantage of now? Will we have more children? I am not in a hurry to answer all these questions today or tomorrow and I think over time the answers will be clear. 

The past year has been one of joyful changes and painful sadness. In October, my beloved grandmother died. She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in her final days. It was painful for me. My grandmother lost her husband when she was young and she raised five children on her own. She lived with my family at our home when I was a girl, teen, and young adult. We were very close and I was blessed to share many milestones in my life with her. In December, my uncle died. He was the brother of my father. He was a dad, granddad and great-granddad. He was a Vietnam Veteran. A man who willing sacrificed for his country. He was also a great uncle who would make us laugh as kids and always brought ice cream to my grandparent's farm on hot summer days. Death is hard. It doesn't care that you aren't ready to say good-bye. It doesn't care that it will leave a void in your life. It was hard but it also helped me grow in my faith. I feel closer to God. 

Throughout this year we have grown, struggled and transformed.  Change is hard and sometimes painful. It has helped us become a stronger family unit.  The new year has come on like a breath of fresh air and the possibilities are endless. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

The Restorative Power of the Woods

:: The Restorative Power of the Woods ::


The clouds are beginning to hang low in the sky making the air cool and crisp, it is a sure sign that autumn is here. We have been waiting for these days all year long. Those afternoons when the sun hangs lows in the western sky casting long shadows onto the ground. The leaves begin their last dance to the ground in bright colors of red, orange, yellow, and deep purple. Squirrels and chipmunks run to complete the Herculean task of storing enough the winter months ahead. We set a path in the woods while talking, watching, and searching for all the beauty that autumn holds in our woods. 

While we are there it occurred to me how peaceful a place it is and my heart began to lift. The world is a place with so much tragedy, heartache, and sadness. It can become an overwhelming merry -go -round of bad news. We try and shield our children from a large portion of it on a daily basis because we do not want their innocence completely lost. We don't want them to grow up too fast. But the sadness we carry as adults can be too much at times. Where can we go and what can we do to feel the release if only for a short time? The woods. 

Our walks in the woods is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children these days. It is uninterrupted time together. We can release our adult worries and distractions while focusing solely on our kids. It reminds us that the most important work we do is loving our children and teaching them to love others. The woods gives us a glimpse into the natural cycle of life and death. That every season is a gift. 

On this particular walk we came to an area on the trail that held beautifully slender trees with no undergrowth. The ground beneath our feet was a blanket of pine needles and leaves. The sun shone through casting tiny dancing shadows onto our faces. My oldest daughter said it felt a lot like church. I couldn't agree more. This holy space where we stand and witness the awesome beauty of the natural world. 

On our drive home, my husband commented on how refreshed he felt. The walk restored his body and mind. I agreed. The restorative power of the woods had lifted the cloudiness of worry and stress allowing me to see the blessings of my life. 


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Weekends

:: Weekends ::


In a great effort to get back into blogging on a regular basis I am going to start writing about weekends and joining up with one of my favorite blogger's (Pumpkin Sunrise) and her weekend post. 
But as you can see we are at Tuesday night and creeping ever closer to the next weekend before I can even get up the last weekend. I will get back into the swing of things once these temperatures drop, the time changes, and I get my fall rhythm into full swing. You can't feel magical or witchy when the weather is still nearing 80's. 

We had a jam packed weekend hence the late post....

*Friday night dinner with long time friends who are now only 10 minutes away opposed to hundreds of miles. 

*laughs over old yearbooks and talking about Korean Pop Bands with their teenage daughter

*Saturday morning yard work. The mulching is done! Onto digging the gardens for spring.

*my parents were here to visit for the weekend 

*late afternoon walks through the local environmental center and a windy stroll on the beach 

*pizza night and college football. 

*Sunday morning Mass and Sunday school for the girls

*afternoon apple picking at an apple orchard ( I went a little crazy and we have lots of apples now)

*Sunday dinner and relaxing with kids and grandparents

* the girls didn't have school on Monday so it was a lazy day of making fairy wands for the local fairyfest and a near perfect walk in the woods.




joining Karen from Pumpkin Sunrise