Spring time shorts

Yes, I’m wearing shorts more often, but this is more short blurbs about life right now. And no pictures of me in shorts because it might blind you. Its still somewhat early spring.

Little Man is still totally in love with water. He is all about water play, which means turning on the hose and watching the water flow. We shut down our raised beds a year ago, and they’ve over grown with grass, but I did dig up a 2’x2′ square so he would have access to loose dirt to play in. Yes, and mud. Since the area was ‘raised’, there is an incline to watch the water flow down as it floods the dug up area. He would stay at that for hours if he didn’t get cold. Yes, the boy has found the ability to get cold… when its 70′, cloudy and he is wet.

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We are doing more ‘science experiments’ these days. Little Man is interested in different things and I’m just going for it. We made Oobleck (even made it green!), a paper mache volcano (we did make it errupt!) and we have three Forest Tent catepillars in a big jar on the table, and a Swallowtail butterfly catepillar also in a big jar on the table. No we aren’t doing any kind of worksheets, but we are learning and talking about the natural world.

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I mentioned life being unpredictable lately in my last post. I thought I might offer more explanation of it. For the past year, we have been ‘approved and waiting’ for domestic infant adoption. About 6 months ago, God started working in our hearts to consider embryo adoption. After losing a baby to early miscarriage in June 2013, we are starkly aware of the emotional risk and the resulting grief of losing a baby. We reached a point recently where we realized we were ready to take on that risk and the possibility of such grief. And so, right now, we are in the midst of the application process for embryo adoption.  Of course, we are also doing all kinds of thinking on the ethics of IVF, fertility clinics, and our society’s attitudes towards babies in the embryo stage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to more fully articulate our thoughts, but its such a deep, intense, and sensitive set of topics, its rather scary to approach.

I got a hair cut today. This is monumental because I’ve cut my own hair for the past 5 years. I decided this was what I wanted. My goal is to grow and donate my hair for as long as I can, and this is the 4th time I’ve been able to do this. A before picture….

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and after….

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I do think my hair is getting curlier as I get older.

What are you up to?

Random Shorts (in other words #myunfilteredlife)

A random collection of short burbs from my life of late. Mostly unfiltered.

–Last night, I started dinner by cutting up chicken, getting out the pan, putting a tbsp or two of oil in the pan and turning on the burner. I began wondering what they smell was, and why wasn’t my oil in the pan looking hot. It was nearly 5 minutes later when I realized I’d turned on the wrong burner. I’d turned on the burner that I’d set the plastic oil bottle on… I lost about 1/2 gallon of oil to the top of the stove, which, luckily, has sides high enough to contain most of the oil. I’m grateful we live in a place such that the loss of so much oil was disappointing and a stink to clean up, but it did not limit my ability to cook or provide food, nor will it.

–We have learned that water balloons last longer in a pool of water than not.  Of course, if you leave the balloons in the pool all day, they all deflate. Though if that is due to osmosis or weaking of the latex, I don’t know.

water balloons in the pool

water balloons in the pool

— I was walking across the yard when I realized on particular step sounded like I was stepping on plastic. The step felt like it, too. So I stooped to look and poke at the ground. Sure enough, there was a bottle buried in the yard. Several years ago I found a spark plug while digging up the garden. Not sure if I should thank the owners of the land from before the house was built or the construction crew or, perhaps both. I’m guessing the previous owners provided the spark plug and construction crew provided the bottle formerly containing Mountain Dew.

what I found in the yard

what I found in the yard

— When Little Man and I head outside, I usually imagine I will sit and read. But I always find something else to do. Most recently, I took apart our 8 year old box fan and cleaned it. Oh, it was gross.

 a distraction from reading

a distraction from reading

— Earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend about raising a little boy and she mentioned “It sounds like he’s bored, really.” It was like a light bulb. So, I got more sand for our sand bin/table. He will happily play for an hour… quiet… as in not talking… and I get to read, quietly, without distraction. Why did I let the sand run out and not get more? Oh, yeah, teaching conservation….

how I find quiet time

how I find quiet time

— I found myself reflecting on my general inability to keep my dining room table cleared off. My mom had us clear the table off *every day* for dinner. And we put all the stuff away *every day*. I think I might be physically incapable of such a feat.  I am thankful we have a large enough table that we can just move most of the stuff to the far end and sit at the near end to eat. (this is a picture after I’d been working on clearing if off for 10 minutes or so.)

Why can I not keep my dining room table cleared off?

Why can I not keep my dining room table cleared off?

— Little Man is into ‘creating creations’. Yes, those are his works to describe a particular painting of his. This is a recent duplo creation. I didn’t think to have him tell me about it at the time, so we can only guess what he was thinking of.

creations. by Little Man

creations. by Little Man

— More fun “science”: rooting an avocado seed.

'growing' avacado

‘growing’ avocado

— And we played with modeling clay. He started out making ‘snakes’, but they became snails soon after. Family member might begin receiving clay snail when they finally dry. 😀

making snails

making snails

 

— Really, life is going well. I’m getting reading done and enjoying. I’m exploring new ideas, and reviving old ones (got my sewing machine fixed!).

A week in review, June 23 to 29

A fun week. A full week. I hope not every week is this busy.

We built a fort from ‘craft sticks’. Yes, Little Man wielded the glue for most of the building.

Glue!

Glue!

Concentrate...

Concentrate…

Towards the end, I just let him build it himself. It has a very creative design, I must say.

The fort.

The fort.

He decided at one point that he didn’t have enough blocks.

Look at what I built!

Look at what I built!

We tried some ‘giant bubble solution’. It might be because I wasn’t using actual blue Dawn, but they most all popped as soon as they came off the bubble blowing device. The string-straw device didn’t work all that great, though perhaps my straws were wimpier than the ones another blogger used.

string and straw bubble blowing

string and straw bubble blowing

The PVC pipe made the best bubbles and was easiest to use. I knew I was keeping that short bit around for some reason!

PVC pipe bubble blowing

PVC pipe bubble blowing

Standing on ones hands has become a key skill to be developed in our house these days.

I LOVE standing on my hands!

I LOVE standing on my hands!

I finally got *both* of my sewing machines in for repairs. Though while checking them in at the store, I found that one machine didn’t have a pressure foot. So, back the next day we went to drop off the pressure foot. We had some time, so we stayed to look. I was totally eyeing up a serger and the gal offered to demonstrate it for me. Little Man wasn’t being the most cooperative, so she said to an early-teens-or-so gal to go get the box of toys. Then the gal sat down and played with Little Man while her mom, turns out, demonstrated the use of the serger. When the gal got bored, her brother stepped in and he and Little Man built trucks, trains and buildings from duplos. And I got to see a new serger in action. If you are in Waco, and are in need of sewing machine service or are wanting to buy a machine, go to the Bernina store on Waco Drive. I was very impressed with their service.

I ended up tossing the water bottle. I found a crack along the bottom, which sealed its fate. :::sigh:::

A Eulogy to a water bottle

This water bottle has been with me for 15 years. I purchased it, emblazoned with an OMF International logo on it, in June 1999… on my way to mainland China for the summer. In Hong Kong, I scratched the logo off, for, hopefully, obvious reasons.

the beloved bottle

the beloved bottle

I love this water bottle. I like the small neck and the short size. It is easy to drink from, and fits in most bags easily. The fatness of the bottle makes it hard to fit in cup holders, but that is more a nuisance than a problem. Yes, it was full of BPA, but noone new any better back then, and the bottle has been through. (Though I heard via my sister that I someone decided that BPA-free bottles aren’t good for you either. I like the idea of glass, but not for my three year old.) And finally, it has suffered a fatal injury — at the hands of a three year old. Its amazing what else this water bottle has survived, but, apparently, the rough housing of a little boy was too much for it.

The fatal injury

The fatal injury

This crack leaks, and has been leaking lightly for several months. But now it now leaks rather copiously, as I discovered at the zoo today from the amount of water in my bag. If you happen to drink with the crack down, it will leak water down your chin, which is just no fun. I hate to throw out such a loved item, so I’m trying hard to think of an alternative use for it, since it just won’t work as a traveling water bottle any more. I know I need to give myself a deadline… if I don’t figure out a use before [set a date], it gets thrown out. I think I’ll give myself a week. I’ll let you know what I come up with. 😛

Quite the week

There are weeks when I’m thankful the weekend has come, and then there are weeks, like this one, when I recognize I NEED the weekend to recover from the week.

–The Hubby-man dashed up north to visit his family. Found a great ticket price with car rental, and it seemed quite worth it. It just meant dropping him at the airport (almost 2 hour drive, one way) then picking him up. It just meant a late night Monday.

–Tuesday Hubby-man and I went to the Mission Waco Banquet. It was great to hear the stories of how people have turned their lives around, gotten off the streets, have become ministers themselves. We left Little Man with a… wait for it… babysitter! At someone else’s house, no less! He had a great time, we had a great time. But, another ‘late’ night. (around here, ‘late’ means out past Little Man’s normal bedtime)

–normal day Wednesday.

–On Thursday, Little Man and I did what only crazy people do. Drive to downtown Austin at 5 pm. We ventured down that way to attend the book signing for “Notes from a Blue Bike” by Tsh Oxenreider, founder of theartofsimple.net. It was a ton of fun, nothing like what I expected.

Driving into Austin, at a crazy moment

Driving into Austin, at a crazy moment

Can you see my "I'm meeting a published author!" look?

Can you see my “I’m meeting a published author!” look?

The Palm Door, where the book signing was hosted.

The Palm Door, where the book signing was hosted.

–Today, we are taking it easy. Watching a bit too much TV. Tomorrow will be the same. Rest. Then, into the next week!

Finding my stride

This is a major thing for me these days… finding my stride. I’m not a runner, yet this running analogy really seems to work for me. I’ve run enough to know what it feels like when I find that stride or pace that lets me get in the zone. I do swim, or at least try, regularly, and I know that feeling of ‘the zone’, where I’ve found the pace, the rhythm that I can let just take over my movements.
I pick up a new work project and I need some focused time to ‘find my stride’, which means I’ve figured out the paradigms of the project, I’m able to move through the steps easily and smoothly.
I’ve nearly completely lost my stride in writing, shown by how sparse my posts are. More on this later.
I’m always thinking that with a bit of focused time I’ll find my stride in scheduling, housekeeping, parenting (which includes getting Little Man to sleep, or play on his own, or not scream/yell at me, or whatever), exercise, sewing, and anything else that life brings along. It took a few years of focused effort to find my stride in menu planning and cooking daily dinners.
But, of course, something happens, my stride is broken and the process of finding it starts over. Most recently, Little Man decided to sprout some new molars. At least, I can see buds on the bottom jaw, though nothing on the top, and this clingy, weepy, grumpy boy has been around for several days already. Or I have a few crappy days (or just one), or we get a bit busy, or someone gets sick (croup cough at 2 am… yeah, that not just breaks my stride but knocks me on my butt) and the stride is broken.
I don’t think this is a bad process or a misguided analogy of living life, but I do think sometimes I lack perspective on it. Most things in life are cyclical, think sweeping the floor, vacuuming or laundry. As soon as its done, it needs to be done again (esp with a 2 1/2 year old running around the house!). And the rest of the things in life are ‘this too shall pass’ kinds of things (good or bad). A little focused time and finding my stride for the daily ins and outs of life and life just runs better.
And then there are the really important things: reading the Bible, praying to the God of the universe, seeking Christ-likeness, loving Hubby, loving Little Man, loving people. And these are not things that are put down on the to-do list, nor checked off in a ‘I’m done!’ kind of way. These things don’t lend themselves to finding a stride in. These things are not about moving forward… they are more about standing still and being fully present in the here and now.
Finding my stride in the dailies (or weeklies?) does seem to help me stand still for these really important things. Maybe this is a part of living intentionally, or living simply. Or maybe its that the ‘stride’ for the really important things is of a different kind than the ‘stride’ for the dailies.
I’m still exploring this, thinking through it, and trying to understand this dynamic of daily ins and outs.
How about you? Does this even feel like your life?

2013 reflections

Well, my hopes at getting back to blogging didn’t pan out. But its my own fault, I just had no initiative to write. I know that something like writing is some thing you do when you want to and when you don’t want to, but at the same time, I’m writing this blog for friends and family… not to generate income, or create a business base, but to encourage, enlighten, and inform. And sometimes, you just gotta let it all lie dormant for a bit.

I started to look back at my 2013 posts, but there are an awful lot of them. The first post of the year, however, was a fun one, and I thought I’d do something like that. A few pictures, a few reflections…

G&G Younger Visit

Feb 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 20131

Sept 2013

Oct 2013

Nov 2013

Dec 2013

 

2013 was a good year in many ways. We’ve had a ton of fun with Little Man as he grows and develops. It was also a hard when we lost Kiddo in June (an early miscarriage), but we have great hope to comfort us in that loss.

Its exciting to look ahead at 2014. I see the potential of lots of exciting things! Or perhaps normal things… I plan to do laundry today. 😛

Getting back to writing

I see that its been a LONG time since I put up a new post. Life got difficult, then busy, then better, then busier… but that’s just life isn’t it? Here is a brief run down of the last 2 months…. (in mostly-chronological order)

1. We realized I was dealing with postpartum ‘blues’ after the miscarriage, so I started being more intentional about getting exercise, good social contact and some time away from Little Man. All that has helped quite a bit.

2. We went camping at Lost Maples State Natural Area. Wow, its beautiful and perfect for testing new equipment and general hiking ability. I got to use the ‘new-to-me’ external frame backpack and I LOVE it! And I learned that Little Man is about as heavy as a pack as I would carry. That might have been the last hike I carry him on.

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Little Man had his own backpack for this trip, and its still being used. He really likes it, even if it is hot pink.

3. HubbyMan went on a backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park. He had a ton of fun and we hope to get back there as a family next spring.

4. Little Man has decided that sleep is for wussies. He has wonked up his sleep schedule with napping some days and not napping other days, falling asleep easily at night some nights and struggling for an hour and a half (or more) on other nights. He’s hit some developmental milestones in various areas, and his energy level has skyrocketed. His outside-time need has also gone up rather significantly. Talk about wonking up my schedule!

4. We are excited to host a lot of family this November. We also hosted another family of 5 one night in October. Its the most activity our guest bedroom has experienced in a long time.

5. I hope to be back on the blog post bandwagon again. I’m taking a facebook sabbatical for a few weeks, which should be a lot of regained time. Yep, gonna have to contact me the old fashioned ways: email and phone calls!

School is in the air

Alas, I must finish my homekeeping project… but not today.

So, I’m itching to do some ‘school’. I really enjoy academics and I love to learn. And I love to teach. I just couldn’t help myself when I found (via moneysavingmom.com) this fun set of lesson plans: God’s Little Explorers. I figured we could do as much or little as we wanted (joys of doing ‘preschool’ at home!) and have fun with it.

We did Week 1:  “X” Marks the Spot (God’s Word is a Treasure), day 1 today. I think we had fun.

First, I made some ‘binoculars’ for Little Man. He has really enjoyed them, and they are made from a major heavy duty cardboard roll (I have no idea what came on it) that required a knife for cutting. Hopefully, that means it will last longer.

I see you!

I see you!

We went on a walk with the binoculars, and I think Little Man really enjoyed looking at stuff through them.

Little Man has discovered a special joy in running. Just running. Not to get any where, per say, but just to run. So, for some of our walk, we ran. He’s pretty fast. I can still keep up with him fine, but I can’t just walk, I have to jog to keep up. Which does me more exercise for me. Which is good — so I keep telling myself.

Back at the house, we (I) drew a ‘treasure map’ on the drive way. No, Little Man can’t hop yet, but he had fun jumping through the hop scotch.

start here. then hop scotch.

start here. then hop scotch.

On the way through the treasure map, I also drew up a ‘four square’. Not sure if this is what everyone else calls it or not — its where you each stand in opposite squares and bounce a ball to each other. Except that our ball was flat, it was fun. I don’t think the flat ball affect Little Man’s fun.

finish here. Drink water.

finish here. Drink water.

We played outside for a while more. We even watched the garbage truck come by and the guys pick up our garbage. Little Man loves watching them. We came in for a snack… crackers and cheese. I had put out all the cheese sticks as ‘x’s’ on the crackers,  but Little Man promptly took all the sticks off, lined them up and ate the crackers. (He did eat some cheese).

cheese and crackers... yummy!

cheese and crackers… yummy!

 

I think from here we will do a bit of book reading, and talking about ‘treasures’. I have a few other ideas for fun activities.

I have no expectation that Little Man will learn any letters from all this, its just fun and I enjoy the focus and intentionality of it  — and getting to plan.

I highly recommend Home Preschool and Beyond, both the book and blog. Home is the best place for littles, I think. I don’t think there is anything special you need to do for your child, it is fun for someone like me.

Simplifying, Decluttering and Personalities

Back before Little Man was born, I received the book Simplicity Parenting. It really made since. I aim to keep us home at least 3 or 4 days a week, we’ve aimed to keep toys to a minimum. We aim to sandwich A days with C days.

Then, one day Hubby says that there are just too many toys out. Its too much to clean up, he says. I had to agree. So, I removed several toys that weren’t played with all that much. Put about 1/4 of the duplo blocks into a basket that was put back out; the other 3/4 were put away. The next day, Little Man hardly noticed, but he did play quietly by himself for a while.

A few days later, I read a blog post about a mom who, in response to seeing her daughter’s discontent, put away *all* the daughters’ toys. As in, every single toy. All the dress up clothes, all the toy food, all the puzzles. It took two weeks to adjust, but then the girls started playing happily together.  Then they reached the day when the girls would ask for a toy (such as dress up clothes) that would keep them happy all day.

I was inspired. We’d been trying to teach Little Man to play on his own for months; nothing too intense, just setting him up with something and leaving. Or making suggestions of what he could do. I hoped that it was just a ‘someday’ skill, he is only 2. But I figured this was worth the try.

I cleared out another 1/2 of the toys. Most of the toys left out fit on a small 3 foot bookshelf. The books fit in a basket. There are other random toys around, and he’s acquired a few more ‘toys’, like an empty roll of tape. I didn’t clear out all the toys, because he isn’t old enough to ask for particular toys. Here’s what’s out:

Most of the toys. This is the 3 ft bookshelf.

Most of the toys. This is the 3 ft bookshelf.

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I use a wire trashcan to hold the various balls and a beanbag. If nothing else, it makes a natural target for throwing.

I use a wire trashcan to hold the various balls and a beanbag. If nothing else, it makes a natural target for throwing.

The remainder of the toys that got put away are up in our closet. The books are on a shelf in our bedroom. I figure I’ll trade a few things out every now and then, especially if I see something that isn’t played with all that much.

This doesn’t include outside toys, those are just a different category.

Result: One morning, he pulled out his car and truck and played with them, quietly and on his own for nearly 2 hours. I think he was watching the wheels as he rolled the vehicles over various surfaces. Another morning, at the local children’s museum, he played, quite intently, with toy trains for nearly an hour. And this has continued. He has spent 30 minutes studying the water as it flows ‘down hill’ as he poured it with a cup from the swimming pool (not that we have hills in our yard, but there is enough of a slope in places for the water to flow down).

Last weekend, at my nephew’s 1 year birthday part, at one point I realize that Little Man isn’t out playing any more. I look around and find him back in the bedroom with toy trains, playing quietly on the bed. I realized that Little Man is more like me than I’d assumed. Yes, he likes interaction, but he likes the one-on-one interaction. Big groups seem to wonk him out. And with slimming down his choices about toys, he seems to find it easier to focus on one thing.

And its all way easier and faster to clean up.

 

I think I’m a ‘busy brain’

I started reading The Common Room several months ago and I’m really enjoying it. On Fridays, the Equuschick has been writing on raising a ‘busy brain’. These are kids who try your patience with their curiosity and perfectionism. They might not do well in traditional school settings (think Einstein and such). From the start, I was rather convinced that I was married to a busy brain and that I’m working to raise a busy brain. As I read and thought, though, I began to think “am I a busy brain?” This link here will take you to the ‘Brainy Friday’ posts, and here is the first post that prompted it all.

I’ve never considered myself particularly gifted, and I struggled to get all A’s in school. I was tested for the Gifted and Talented program several times, but never quite made it in.

But I’ve been paying attention to my own thought patterns lately. They are everywhere. And rather unorganized. I can jump from one topic to the next in no time, without missing a beat. I have strong perfectionist tendencies. Somethings come very easy for me, and other things are quite difficult. I don’t think I’m a classic ‘busy brain’, but then who is, right?

Anyhoo, I started that Homekeeping Strategies Project, and I WILL finish it. Of course, I’ve gotten distracted by picking up an old Greek textbook, CS Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man”, several new Kindle books (free from amazon!), and have even considered working on (might I finish it?) my Master’s Thesis which I never finished because I decided to just take the comp exams and graduate. And I’m thinking about this all while I’m working hard to finish a work project on time, get up early enough to have a bit of planning and a bit of bible reading before Little Man gets up, which means getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and keep my home running smoothly — which includes running after a very active and rather passionate little boy. And not drink too much coffee.

Okay, typing all that made me more tired.

With the start of a new school year, lots and lots of folks are talking about their new start, new routines, new goals and new habits. I, in general, enjoy thinking about these things. But then I think nothing will change all that much for me when school starts so why think on these things too much. But you know what, I will have more of a schedule. HelloMornings (and here) will be full swing starting Monday. Tuesday morning Bible study will start up, likely, in the next few weeks.

Yep, got more think about. I hope to have more on homekeeping strategies up soon!

Turning 7

Today, July 28 is my blog’s 7th birthday. hard to believe I’ve been doing this that long.

2006 was a busy year. Well, two things happened that rocked my world. On June 3, I got married. Then, on June 17, my mother died. Doesn’t take much more to make for a crazy year, right? Anyhoo, I think I saw blogging as an creative outlet that I needed.

Here are some more popular and significant posts of the last 7 years:

The first post

Pondering death and grief

Dealing with infertility

Moving across country (and when my blogging rate picked up significantly)

The top 5 posts of all time, in order of number of views:

Hope in the Grief

Moms and Sons

A Day in the Life: One year edition

Geffen Baby Inserts review

I have not fallen off the face of the earth

I will likely never be a professional blogger, at least not any time soon. But I do love to write and hope to keep writing for a long time. I love that people read my posts and hope that anyone who reads them enjoys them.  If you have time, you might consider perusing the oldest posts… as in pre-2009. There aren’t that many, but each post was a rather significant point (unlike these days when a post might just be a ‘day in the life’ kind of post).

Thank you readers! And leave a comment with what you’d like to see more of.