Friday, January 31, 2014

A Month of Books (January)

This month my kids had 5 snow/cold days off from school, 3 previously scheduled days off, a scheduled late start and a delayed opening.  We had a lot of together time.  And while we were able to have fun together, the fun was predicated on chores.  If they had a day off from school, I handed them a list of chores to do before they could really have a day off.  I'm mean like that.  But frankly, all the together time after winter break was A LOT of together time.

Because of this, I read both more and less.  More at one sitting, but it felt like fewer books overall.  When I did sit and read, I devoured.  For the first time in a long time, I was reading entire books in a day.  Escapism, anyone?


It took me 13 months, not 12, but I finished reading the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in a year-ish!!  (Or a baker's dozen of months...)

What did I get from speed reading my way through?  It's a good question, because I certainly wasn't studying the scriptures.

 Because of how fast I was going, I was much better able to see and track the pride cycle, and also the linear story line in the Old Testament. The rises and falls of the Israelites were much more tragic because of how quickly I was seeing them go by.

I will confess that speed reading through the New Testament almost killed me.  Because I didn't have time to savor and ponder the words, I realized how much of the New Testament is the same thing repeated over and over and over again.  Although, rushing through Paul's writings made me dislike him less, so that's something.

When I was in college I took 2 years to read the Doctrine and Covenants.  I took 2 months this time.  I believe there is a happy medium somewhere in between. Although, because we visited Nauvoo, IL and Carthage Jail this summer I had a much easier time visualizing some of the sections that were written during that portion of church history.

I've read all of these books before, but while doing this challenge, I also came to realize that not as many people as I would have thought have.  That's bizarre to me.  If you claim to believe or not believe in something, you've got to know what you're talking about.  I don't think you need to be able to quote chapter and verse, but at least know generally the wheres and whys.  Or know the scriptures well enough to have a book that speaks to you most or one that you would rather stab yourself with a fork than have to read again.  (Todd says Leviticus. I say Numbers.)

Anyway, I'm glad I did it. But now I'm ready to slow down and study.  I think I'm going to use this book:

It's set up a bit like a text book and there are lots of opportunities to stop and read the scriptures where the specific stories are coming from or where the author draws her conclusions from.  I'm looking forward to a less frantic pace.

One thing I learned all over again, though, was how for me taking time out of my day to spend with scriptures helps the rest of my day feel more focused.

A Month of Winnowing 2014

Jan 1- Have made a pile of the following things to get out of the house: A crock-pot (I just received a new one for Christmas), a Golf calendar for 2013-2014, a bag of used clothing and shoes to be donated.

Jan 2- Found new homes for the crock pot and calendar through our neighborhood Freecycle type group.  Also added some little boy baseball caps and toddler clip-on ties that we no longer need to the ever growing pile of things to donate.

Jan 3-  Found a LEGO set to sell.  It's just a little one, but my kids already have it, and we certainly don't need duplicates of the millions of legos currently underfoot in this house!  (Sold for $2 on neighborhood site!)

Jan 4-  plastic Princess shoes that don't fit Lilyanna's wide feet.  Sold for $2 on neighborhood kid's stuff site!

Jan 5- Some sparkly dress ups that a friend gave to us, that are doubles of things we already have.  I gave these away on a neighborhood forum.

Jan 6- Adding to the donation bin a pair of old slippers

Jan 9- Found some little toys to put in "The Anti-Claus Box".  Happy Meal type stuff.

Jan 10-  In cleaning off the kitchen counters, I found some overpriced snack food from Whole Foods that nobody in my family liked.  I will give away to someone in the neighborhood.

Jan 11-  A gorgeous tie that Todd owns but he feels is to "pastel-y" for him.  It's a really nice tie, so I'll sell that.  (Got $5 on the neighborhood site!)

Jan 12-  Started putting together a box for my friend, Liz, and her little girl.  (Hi, Liz! The box should be full by the end of the month!)

Jan 13-  Sorted through some hand me downs we received and added a few really well loved items to the donation bin.

Jan 14-
Jan 15-
Jan 16-
Jan 17-

Jan 18-  In cleaning out my closet, found several shirts and sweat shirts that I haven't used in years and am not likely to use anytime in the future.  Will add them to the donation bin.  Also, it made it so I found a dress I bought a year ago, wore twice, and forgot about.  I'll wear that to church on Sunday.

Jan 19- added 2 pairs of my own shoes to the give away bin.  They have served me well for many years and I'd already sort of replaced both of them.  One can never have too many pairs of black shoes in my opinion.

Jan 20- cat food leftover from when we had the hedgehog.  Gave to the neighbors across the street.

Jan 21-
Jan 22-
Jan 23-
Jan 24-

Jan 25- Made my 11 year old clean out his closet and dresser and bring me things that don't fit him anymore.  He's notoriously picky about how things fit, so even though I know some of the items in the pile technically fit, I also know he won't wear them so we might as well pass them along.

Jan 26- compiling a box of cleaning supplies I don't use.  I typically use baking soda and vinegar as my main cleaners, but have acquired others over the years in hopes of magic!  Alas, buying cleaners didn't magically make anything clean.  (What do you mean I have to actually use them??) ;)

Jan 27- Took a whole box full of tap, jazz. and ballroom dance shoes to try to pawn off on the belly dance crowd.  Alas, there were no takers, but I decided I would donate everything but the ballroom shoes.  I paid too much money for those and they were only worn for a week of ballroom dance camp each!  (My friend took them to a local high school who is doing a production of "Shrek: the Musical" and they were able to use all the shoes!  Hooray!)

Jan 28- Found a red faux snake skin hat that I once bought in NYC during a torrential rain storm when I had neither a hood nor an umbrella.  It's hideous.  The only time it's been used since then is for dressing a snowman.  Straight to the donation bin!

Jan 29-  Cleaning out my cedar chest and am finally passing on a beautiful wool jumper that my Mom made for me years ago.  It hasn't fit me since college.  (It fit well for years everywhere but the chest...).  I have a hard time passing on things that were specifically made for me, because I remember the process.  I helped sew seams, pick out buttons, patterns and material.  But it's more than time to pass it on to someone who will be able to use it.

Jan 30- In cleaning under my dresser (terrifying!) found a kid's book and a belt to add to the donation box.

Jan 31-  Woo hoo! Just got an email from Once Upon a Child that they're looking for Spring and Summer things, so I'm packing up a box to take over there to sell.  I'll either donate what is left or add to the box to mail to Liz.

Well, there we go.  One more month of getting rid of at least 30 things.  I still have WAAAAY more to get rid of, but the closets are a little cleaner and I will have made about $20 after I take the summer clothing to Once Upon a Child tomorrow.  Not bad at all.  I should probably do this hard core more than once a year.  Maybe quarterly...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Personal Entomology

Some moments I am a grasshopper.  Other moments I'm an ant.  I'm mostly grasshopper with a few ant-like spurts.


Watch, then read the talk at the link.

I love that talk by Louise Plummer.  That's just an exerpt that was printed in one of our church publications but you can get the whole essay and others by her here.   I highly recommend them.

Right now, I need to go be an ant, even though I'd rather be doing grasshopper things.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Summertime, and the living is..."

The next line in that song is "easy".  Summertime is not easy, my friends.  We have many wonderful memories made each summer, but I spend literally months planning so those magical moments can happen.

(It's funny that I'm thinking about summer while we're coming off of a "polar vortex" and having wind chills of -36 degrees F.)

We are blessed to have family that live in places that are full of fun adventures, and blessed to be able to travel adventurous pathways to get there.  But all of that travel takes time and money, which means I start planning in January at the latest for the coming summer.

This next summer we have the following adventures coming up:

20th High School Reunion (NJ)
Scout Camp (OH)
Nerd Camp (OH)
MS Camp (OH)
Youth Conference (IL)
Wedding (NJ)
Family Reunion (WY)
Possible other family Reunion (GA?)
Cousins and Kids Camping Trip (UT, but it's just over the border so we pretend it's still in WY)
Ballroom Dance Camp (UT)

Some of those things happen on top of each other and will necessitate plane trips from regional airports in order to hopefully get to the next thing in time.

And I've only listed the things that require some level of travel.  There are other things that will happen locally.  (Dance Recitals, plays, concerts, possibly high school summer gym, etc.)  But this is why in the summer, for the time that we are home, we try to spend our time either working or playing.  We have projects that have to happen around the house and yard and if we don't get them done in the few weeks we're home, they don't get done at all. 

But the other times, we just relax and and enjoy and soak up the pretty green all around us.  The all too rare Ohio sun shares it's rays so sparingly, we have to enjoy while we can, and there is much time spent at our neighborhood pool, swimming and catching bugs and playing/chatting with friends.

And then when we arrive at our destinations, and are able to spend a few days with our family and dear friends in the beauty and sunshine of their various locales, it is worth all the hours of planning.  Most of my children have really happy, wonderful, memories of our summers.  Even the parts that I'm grouchy for. ;)  They're still having fun and enjoying one another's company and making happy memories.
Lilyanna and Caleb watching the seagulls on the beach in Santa Cruz this past summer.  They loved this trip to the beach and have been talking about it ever since.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Lilyanna has had a much more difficult time with gender specific pronouns than any of our other kids.  Well, they all had the same trouble, but she's had it for much longer.  We've spent months trying to explain how to appropriately use pronouns.

On the way to church on Sunday it was like a light bulb went off in her head.  She started listing her friends, identifying their gender, and then assigning them the correct pronoun.  And she's gotten it right ever since.

Right this minute, I'm just glad she doesn't know any trans-gender people.  When she's got this totally down, she can figure out correct pronoun assignations on her own in those cases.  In the meantime we're going to stick to our misogynistic patriarchal plain old currently accepted American English versions.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy Shrieking

Our family loves to play games.  We received 2 games from Todd's parents for Christmas.

The first was Story Cubes.

We played this one last night after dinner and had a fun time making up stories together.  What we did not expect was how much Lilyanna would enjoy this.  And she was GOOD at it.  She understood what to do almost immediately!  We were frankly surprised at what a good story teller she is and especially how well she incorporated the visual prompts from the cubes into her stories!

The second game was Suspend. 

 Again, we all enjoyed it, but didn't anticipate just how much Lilyanna would.  Here is a video of her and Todd playing earlier this evening.  (Warning: if you watch this, you'll want to turn the sound down!)