About me

Monday, May 21, 2018

too much








I feel like I write a lot about this on here, or at least I think a lot about writing about it: the “too-muchness” of digital media.  At times I can check Instagram daily and not feel saturated by the too-muchness of it, and at others even a weekly check-in leaves me feeling like I ate several bags of M&M’s or tried to drink from a fire hose.  And it's so addicting!  Is it possible to find a balance between inspiration and overload? And if it is, how?  I’m not quite there yet and would love to learn.  Blogging doesn't leave me feeling overloaded, though, so I'm trying to channel my creative energy here.  It seems slower and more accessible for me, not only to read others’ words, but to post my own.

Focus is a struggle, too, when there's a screen around.  One of the things that helps me to keep my attention where it is most needed is to keep all devices off and stowed during the day.  I check my phone’s messages at natural break times, like after lunch.  If I reach for my phone to use it as a timer or set an alarm, I wind up checking several little things and getting sidetracked (and the kids get into mischief); so I have invested in a little analog alarm clock for my bedside, an analog watch, and a wonderful timer for the school room.  They have really helped me to stay on task and to keep my most reluctant student on task, too.  I still struggle with keeping all screens off and put away during the day, but at least I think twice if they're not right in front of me!

The past few weeks have been busy ones! 

We traveled to my hometown at the beginning of May to attend my sister's wedding, which was lovely and exhausting and wonderful.  While visiting my mom and dad, we visited the art museum and one of my favorite parks there.  Since the blooms appeared there about a week before they appear here, it was as if we stepped forward in time.  May apples and dogwoods and irises, oh my!  What a lovely season for a wedding!  (My oldest son found a little green friend in my mom's peonies.  It perched on his hand for some time before he put it back.)

As the weather permits, we have been participating in a Nature Club, which meets at a nearby state park.  I'm more excited about the discoveries we've made than the kids are!  I've taken the opportunity to invest in a wildflower guide for our area.  It's arranged by season, which I find far more helpful than the ones we have that are arranged by color.  I can't ever find flowers when they're listed by color (user error, rather than guide problem, I'm sure!), but I've had lots of success with this one (And now I see it has gone way, way up in price!).

I've been steadily making progress on my sister's veil, although it wasn't finished in time.  If she doesn't want it in white, we've talked about dying it with a plant dye.  And if she doesn't have a need for it, I'll save it for a baptism.  Or for one of my girls.  It has been such a fun challenge, a thing to knit for knitting's sake, that it no longer matters what happens to the end product!  I'm just delighted and flattered to have been asked to make something special for the wedding, whether or not it was used. 

I've reached the body of another knitting project.  I'm hoping I'll like the fit after investing so much time in it.  The pattern, Arwen, is well written, and I love the detail of the structure.  It's my "knitting-while-schooling-project," because of all the stockinette in the round.  I can't wait to finish these two projects up so I can start some new ones!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Refresh








 



Before we had been in our new house a week, I had purchased crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, and muscari bulbs for the yard.  A toddler joined me in putting them into the ground, although I had doubts about whether or not they would “work.”  Were they deep enough or too deep?  It was a really hot, dry fall. Did the bulbs get what they needed before the arctic temperatures set in?  Then busy-ness of our days set in, and I didn’t spare them another thought until I saw some crocus leaves peeking above the mulch!  How thrilling to have these sweet reminders that spring will arrive, and soon!  In our last place, we were delighted to find the yard covered with muscari and daffodils our first spring; the same flowers here feel homey, too.  Despite all of the snow we’ve had, both last month and now this month, the crocuses and daffodils are here!

The boys have been hard at work in our backyard this winter.  On warm days they’ve been digging and clearing and playing a game they made up, called “pole-ball.”  They’ve built clubhouses and balance beams with the spare wood our landlord has all over the place.  Looking at the backyard makes me twitch: there’s so much junk and dirt!  I wish I could get out there and clear everything out, but when I see the boys out there, collaborating, building their own Roxaboxen with the mess, I’m happy to be patient.

It’s no secret that this year of homeschooling has been...stressful.  I spent the spring and summer of 2017 carefully planning out our days and breaks, and then we moved to a new state in September, one which has much more onerous homeschooling regulations.  Switching directions midstream is a huge challenge for me, and I’m not much of a risk taker. Tried and true, that’s what’s for me! I have been pushing for us to get all of our requirements in rather than focusing on the importance of mastery and cultivating our souls.  Sometimes it’s hard for homeschooling mothers to give themselves permission to slow down and not finish the book or curriculum for the year, but the pace we’ve been working at has exhausted all of us.

Being in a state of burn out and frustration, I found that the message of Teaching From Rest, a message always acknowledged with my head, reached my heart.  I’ve slowed down my pace, and I’m pulling books for next year now, with a refreshed mind.  I’m even exploring the option of a once-a-week co-op, one that has developed its own Charlotte Mason curricula.  It sounds like a wonderful thing for our family, especially my extroverted children.  But I’m also giving myself permission to say “no” to the co-op if it will add work and strain to our already hectic schedule.

This Lent I set the bar very low: my only goal was to keep the fast.  I remember all of the plans and goals I had last year, to fast (I made a six week meal plan), to participate in several Lenten studies and activities, both for me and the kids.  We got so ill, right before and right in the middle of Lent, that those goals weren't met.  So this year, I decided to keep things simple.  I didn't even plan our meals out until I sat down to make my weekly shopping list!  Do you know, Lent this year was more fruitful than any have been in the past several years? By God's grace, we experienced far more unplanned spiritual growth than in the years that I've had elaborate plans!  One thing that really helped me (although it was meant to guide my children), was listening to this podcast every night at dinner.  My children were really excited to hear it, and they were far more attentive than if I had read it myself.

I didn't keep onions skins this year, as I have many times in the past.  I wasn't even planning to dye eggs because I thought we wouldn't have room in the schedule.  But an unexpected pocket of time on Holy Friday with my little kids opened up, and I decided to try just a regular food dye with brown eggs.  We had such a delightful, low-intensity dying session!  Don't you think the eggs turned out well?  I read the little boys the stories behind dying the eggs red, too.  I hope we can make this an annual tradition!

Christos Anesti!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Yarn Along: April









Joining Ginny...

It’s Orthodox Christian Holy Week this week; we're lagging just a week behind the Western Chrstians.  These particular days aren’t typically known for their swaths of spare time, but I’ve had children fall sick in domino fashion since Saturday, so I have a little more time to knit and read.

My sister asked me to make a μαντήλι for her wedding, which was to be in late July.  Yarn was ordered, far more than needed, and two different types.  Patterns were researched and discussed, tried and rejected. Finally one was chosen and knitting commenced...and then a change of plans.  Due to some scheduling conflicts, the wedding was moved to early May; it’s hard to get 150 people to have the same free spots on their calendars!  I’m fairly certain six weeks (now four!) isn’t enough time to finish this shawl, but I’m knitting as quickly as I can. Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Another project I am working on I like to call “Patience.”  It’s a sock yarn square blanket, one that will need umpteen tiny, two inch squares.  Each square is simple to knit, so it’s my knitting-while-distracted project.  I knit while teaching, reading, waiting, just about any time that requires me to be patient.  There are a lot of those moments around here: I finish about three squares each day!  I had no direction when I started it, other than to incorporate all of the fingering weight yarn I’ve ever used, and some mini skeins I've purchased as souvenirs during my travels.  Random scrap arrangements don’t really appeal to me, but then neither does a really planned out look.  I love to look at quilting blogs, and was inspired by this scrap quilt. Sort of a planned randomness, which is perfect.

I just devoured Teaching From Rest, which gave me quite a bit to think about and work toward.  It definitely merits a second reading.  I’m working my way through Home Education, and moving much more slowly, digesting and reflecting on it.  This morning I read the bit about air circulation in the home and how the blood circulates in the body.  Some ideas are quaint and old-fashioned, and a little funny even!  Others, like the benefit of fresh air and sunshine, are never outdated.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Yarn Along


Joining Ginny




This morning the sun never really rose; the clouds just turned a lighter shade of gray during daylight hours.  It's days like this that make me wish I could stay lost in my book until bedtime, like the Saturdays of my childhood.  I suppose the fact that I can't makes the time I spend reading all the sweeter?

I am really liking this book--the words of the note at the beginning caught my attention immediately.  Books written these days portray most relationships as broken and hopeless, and problems in the relationship solved by giving up rather than striving to make them right.  It's so depressing!  I find Elizabeth Goudge's premise so very heartening.

I'm also about halfway through this book, which is starting to feel repetitive.  I'm not sure I'll be able to make it to the end.

Uncle Wiggily, despite an unenthusiastic reception from my children, has really grown on them.  My boys had the same reception for the Milly-Molly-Mandy books, and then begged me to start them over again when we finished.  I know when to persist, I suppose.  I snagged our copy of the gentleman rabbit's tales at a used bookstore this summer, on a whim.

I just finished a pair of socks for my mother, and I really loved the pattern, the yarn, everything!  They wound up being a little bigger than I thought (superwash yarn always grows on me when I block it--even when I swatch!), so I put them through the washer and dryer to shrink up a little.  They did, and they came through the wash beautifully, too.

The blue bit of knitting with Uncle Wiggily is the body of a baby sweater for a friend's little boy, expected on April Fool's Day.  It is such a quick knit!  Since I took that picture yesterday, I have already divided for the sleeves.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

All the Moving Parts



 





“He never became angry with any of his monks or novices and never uttered a sharp word to them. He bore everything with patience and forgave everyone. He placed all of his cares and burdens at the feet of the Lord and confided all his sorrows only to Him. He strove to pass all of this on to the brotherhood of his monastery, and many of them learned how to nurture and apply this all-encompassing and passionless love in their everyday lives.”

Elder Thaddeus of Fr. Ambrose
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives


‘Why do you fight the good fight when you have no obedience? Whenever you were assigned to serve at a certain place as abbot you complained about it, asking to be excused. You must not do so anymore! Know that you must carry out every obedience with much love, earnestly, and with zeal, without paying any attention to the envy and malice around you.’


Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

The Holy Fathers tell us to let our attention be on the Lord immediately upon waking, to let our thoughts be united with Him during the entire day, and to remember Him at every moment. The Holy Fathers prayed to be delivered from forgetfulness, for we often get carried away by the things of this world and forget the Lord.... We forget that He is everywhere and that any job we do and any task we perform is His. We think that the job we are doing is for someone else and we often perform our tasks unwillingly. When we perform a task unwillingly, soon resistance and a feeling of disgust are born in us, and then our life becomes filled with resistance and disgust for everything, and we grow old in this manner.

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

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Some meditations for the work of my week...maybe yours, too? Peace can be challenging!  The weather has been so bad that we've been inside much of the last month.  The boys have been bouncing around the house like pinballs, and there's been a distinct uptick in all of our activities as we gear up for some performances.  It's hard to keep everything straight!  I frequently need a spiritual nudge toward peace, patience, and obedience.

 I'm rereading this book  and discussing it with a group of women right now, which has been a (much needed) giant push, as opposed to a gentle nudge.  Elder Thaddeus's words have also helped me to welcome and seek out the hiddenness and silence of time away from social media.


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I found my blocking wires in a box after our recent move, which was pretty exciting.  I looked all over for them at our last place, but to no avail!  IT's the first time I've heard of someone finding something in a move.  Anyway, I have been systematically washing and re-blocking all of my shawls with the wires because they work much better for me than pins alone.  There is something so satisfying about turning a dirty, rumpled, shrunken shawl into drapey, open perfection. 


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I finished the pink sweater just in time to block, dry, and wrap it!  It was a delight to give it to the recipient, Little M’s godmother, in person.  My ravelry notes are here.  I don’t usually repeat patterns, but I can’t wait to make one of these for Little M!  Z and I are even talking about making the adult version for ourselves.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Thin Line










We’ve finally found our best rhythm in our new digs, just when Lent is looming.  I know that Lent will change our schedule drastically, and for the best, but I have trouble letting go of my plans and routines.  It's tricky to keep a balance between schooling and playing, housework and outdoor time.  We have had some warmer days in the last week, so on one of them, we went to our favorite nature reserve here.  We noticed a lot of beautiful shelf fungus on the logs, and sweetgum fruit fascinated my two littlest hikers.  I'm hoping to schedule more hikes as the weather improves. 

February, which is a month I now look forward to, after years of dreading its 28 dark and cold days, is coming, too.  February is for tidying and rearranging our books and school things; purging our broken, worn out, or unused items; and refreshing our art supplies.  We’re in desperate need of rulers, paintbrushes, and sketching paper.  Maybe some more watercolors will find their way to our shelves, too.  Little M is almost out of the “drawing on everything” phase (and when I say everything, I mean hands, walls, handmade quilts, walls, math books, library books, and walls) so we could probably start stocking things like paint and markers again.  Probably.  

I get discouraged, though, when I look at the mess we call “school shelves.” It’s absolutely not as organized or as beautiful as I’d like it to be.  Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive, but shopping the flea markets and yardsales takes more time than I can spare.  And the more kids we add to our family, the more important it is to be thrifty and organized—mostly for my sanity!  I have taken to purchasing only one color binder (white) and using the computer or labelmaker to make labels for them, just to give our shelves a little more unity.  In my mind our shelves look Pinterest-worthy. In reality, though, they’re usually a disaster.  I told my mom the other day that I’m too lazy to tidy them as often as they need it (every hour of the day), and despite repeatedly hearing the proper way to shelve their books, the kids just pile ‘em on the shelves any old way.  It’s hard to want to show messy reality; I’d like our best foot forward on social media. Some days I feel like I’m walking on a thin line between ideal and reality, Crazy OCD mom and living in clutter up to our eyeballs.

There are two new babies (of friends!) coming in April, so I am working on some hand knits.  One of the projects is "due" next weekend, for Little M's godmother's baby shower.  I love the pattern, one that I've been wanting to knit for over a year.  I also love the yarn, from a local company, so much that I've ordered more.  I'm trying to arrange a field trip to the studio!  


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Resist It









The answer is not to medicalize these moderate forms of addiction, but to alter the structure of how we live, both at a societal level, and more narrowly, as we construct our day-to-day lives.  It's far easier to prevent from developing addictions in the first place than it is to correct existing bad habits, so these changes should begin not with adults, but with young kids.  Parents have always taught their children how to eat, when to sleep, and how to interact with other people, but parenting today is incomplete without lessons on how to interact with technology, and for how long each day.



      Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
Adam Alter