Friday, June 26, 2015

Quick Takes #184: Stream of Consciousness 800 posts later!

  1. Have of course been following the coverage out of Charleston; so impressed with how the church community has pushed forward and how the victims families have already been able to talk about the power of forgiveness
  2. Summer so far is going well with daily trips to a local playground or time spent biking or scootering around the neighborhood. The pace is about to pick with community camp starting today; and July brings a week of gymnastics camp for the two bigs and later an enrichment week for Elisabeth. As always hoping to strike the right balance between planning activities and allowing for downtime. 
  3. The house a year later has that familiar home feel to it; and while there is less pictures hung and more book boxes still to unpack then I would have guessed a year back I also know a lot of livin happened in the past year and bit by bit the filling of book shelves and hanging of pictures will happen.
  4. Soon I plan to enlist Lisbeth's help in pick-up her room sufficient for pictures to be taken and perhaps a post about how we transformed her room since moving in. Regardless of whether I ever post about it ~ I'm very much feeling the pressure to capture this moment for something tells me that her room may look very different by next summer. 
  5. If the Blogger post counter is to be believed this is my 800th post which is something I can't quite wrap my brain around but promise a more fleshed out reflection on at some point soon. In the meantime thank you for all of you who have read along on this adventure.
  6. Prayers for all those without power especially our hostess.
  7. Plans for the weekend include swimming lessons, shopping and general charging after a couple of tough weeks.
Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Five Faves: Biography Edition

Linking up with Jenna and sharing some of my favorite biographies
  1. The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser: A wonderful, well researched book that tells you so much about these women, the times they lived and how they came to know and marry King Henry. Fraser writing is interesting and witty and I learned so much about these women generally only known for how they died.
  2. We Two by Gillian Gill: Is a fun and fascinating look at the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and how their continual power struggles rather than hurting their relationship gave it variety and energy.  The author offers a lot of opinions and does not use many primary sources but I found it a fun and fascinating read.
  3. RFK by Evan Thomas: Is a great biography in part because just tells the story of his life with all it's contradictions and neither puts him on a pedestal nor tries to tear him down from one.  Evans tells the story of a younger brother who was the ultimate team player and reluctantly came into his own when forced by tragedy into a leading role.
  4. A Good Man by Mark Shiver: I've written about this book before but as it fits the criteria I'm giving it another shout-out. More of a memoir than biography it is a lovely look back by a son of his father and why some many after his father's passing found him to be A Good Man.
  5. And while not a biography in the strictest sense Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts tells the stories of the wives and daughters of the Revolutionary War/ Continental Congress time period and is a wonderful read; informative yet wit and filled with little stories which make the people and time come alive.

Please head over to Jenna's for more Fave Fives.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

First Day ~ Last Day 2014-15

First Day of First Grade

 Last Day ~ June 12, 2015

First Day of 4 day Preschool

Last Day ~ June 12, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Quick Takes #183: Life going fast but in a good way

  1. Weekend went very well with the kids tolerating all the traffic we hit on our way north, enjoying the hotel but not being too rambunctious. We were really happy to be able to join in on the graduation celebration of young cousins we hadn't seen in too long and the kids did well meeting lots of new relatives. 
  2. Capping off Saturday was the chance to go back to the farmhouse where Charlie spend summers growing up (was his grandparent's ~ currently his aunt's) and go for a walk in a nearby state park that he and his family would spend a lot of time in. The weather was great and the kids had a blast. We then took time to watch the Belmont and cheer on the newest Triple Crown winner. After a later start than intended luckily there was little traffic and the kids slept most of the way home.
  3. Today is the last day of school for both the bigs! As I look back on the year the biggest change for Lisbeth has to be the shift from non-reader to reader. Somewhere early this spring she had that aha moment where sounding out words cease to be something she resisted and rather became a tool useful towards reading. I've also enjoyed watching her explore and tackle with some ease different number and math concepts.
  4. Liam growth during this past year is harder to pin down; he mastered writing his name, recognizes about 10 letters and can mostly count to 20 (usually skips 15-17).  Mostly what I see is someone who has matured into a student ~ who holds a pencil rather than 'fisting' it and now looks at books as something with letters and things to count. The art he brings home is more recognizable and his descriptions reference ideas and concepts learned in school.
  5. Caitlin feels much more mischievous a toddler to me than the other two; perhaps memory fades. Also too my child-proofing is not what it was given that I now have older kids for whom markers and other art supplies are appropriate. However Lisbeth's tendency to get absorbed in what she is creating and Caitlin's amazing instinct for finding the unattended marker has twice this week had me cleaning her and the floors of her artistic exploration.  Bad blogger ~ no pictures; sorry!
  6. Planning to include the littles while I knock-off two categories of the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge this summer by reading The Little Prince (a book originally written in another language) and the Wind in the Willows (childhood favorite) to them.
  7. Am looking forward to slightly less crazy mornings and less stressful bedtimes but largely I'm looking forward to a chance to get a better glimpse of my munchkins as they race on by.

Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What We're Reading Wednesday: June 3rd

Linking up with Jessica of Housewifespice and sharing what I've been reading.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
    There is a very slow start to this novel but it came so highly recommended I decided to push through and I'm glad I did.  In so many ways this novel is a treasure. It's not easy to write a political novel with a strong love story and good characterizations. Gaskell takes on quite a bit and mostly succeeds in her task of describing the changes industrialization brought to England. She balances her sympathy for the workers in the factories with the dilemmas posed to the mill owners by new machinery, competition from abroad, and the threats of potential workers' strikes. She contrasts very effectively the excitement of this new way of life against the nostalgia for the agrarian past. These were new concepts in Victorian England, but they are not so foreign today that we cannot readily understand their significance.

She gives us a sympathetic and spirited heroine in Margaret Hale, who is wise beyond her years. Another colorful character is Nicholas Higgins. I found myself looking forward to his scenes because he provides the humor in an almost-humorless book. I definitely missed the comedy of manners usually found in books by Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer.   Mr. Thornton is a character we can readily identify with--someone who triumphs over adversity and seeks to constantly better himself. Someone with high standards, yet none higher than he holds himself to. Margaret is his match in every way.

I did see many plot similarities with "Pride and Prejudice" in the love story. We have characters of different class backgrounds who are initially repelled but who come to appreciate each other and are kept apart by misunderstandings and circumstances. The proposal scenes are strikingly familiar, and the first proposal includes almost the same language (re gentlemanlike behavior) that Elizabeth speaks to Darcy. And we have a Lady Catherine DeBourgh character in Mrs. Thornton, who does her best to drive the lovers apart. But I can't fault Mrs. Gaskell for borrowing plotlines from the master. Although Gaskell is a strong writer, she does not quite have Jane Austen's gift for revealing the humanity in her characters with humor and affection. There is not much "fun" and no banter (until the very last lines of the book) in the North and South love story.
Mostly I'm glad I held in there, I learned a lot about English history at that particular time. I love that it rewarded me for getting through those first 150 pages with a rich, compelling story.  As Victorian novels go, this is surprisingly modern and a worthwhile read.

Currently finishing up Them ~ starting Erin's Ring and as part of the Stella Maris book club reading some of Flannery O'Conner short stories

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Goals: A follow-up

Hello! Happy June!
   How was your May? Overall mine was good; the weather got very hot very quickly but otherwise a lot of fun was had celebrating birthdays, moms, and starting to get ready for summer.

Goal wise I was glad to have them and feel like I did well overall ~ an old wrist injury from my gymnastic days re-emerge which adversely effected my ability to do the strength training I had hoped to.  And so to recap:

Goals for the month:

Wake up my style by committing to wearing skirts or dresses 3x a week ~ This went well and I really had fun mixing things up and hopefully will continue in June though not planning on aiming for a specific number.
  • 5000 steps (counting on my phone which I don't constantly carry) a day and strength training 3x a week.  This was a mixed bag; according to my phone the monthly average was about 4000 (3988) steps so not bad but definitely room for improvement. My wrist is feeling better so I'm planning on just continuing this goal into June and hope to actually manage some consistency with strength training.

  • 30 oz of water a day ~ feel like I did well with this but not yet a habit so will hold at this level for another month in the hopes of establish this amount as habit before trying for more.

  • Journaling daily in my nice new Blessed is She journal ~ I only missed a couple of days but too often it was jotting down a couple of notes before turning out the lights. My plan for this month is to be more intentional in planning journaling time and more reflective in my responses.

  • minimum of 8 posts this month on this little blog here ~ managed 7; close but not quite :)
With school winding down and summer activities starting holding steady and building on the progress of May feels like the way to go for the moment but am also open to seeing what the month brings.