Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I'm Into: July 2015

It’s been way too long. I’ve had my reasons excuses for staying away, but now I’m back! I thought the best way to catch you all up on the Life of Treats would be to link up to “What I’m Into” with Leigh Kramer again. I promise (kind of) to go into more detail about some of this in the next week or so. Deal?

What I’ve been reading:

I’ve moved on from The Hunger Games trilogy. I read all three books in the spring and I’m looking forward to the release of the last movie, but it isn’t consuming me as it did when I was in the process of reading the story. That’s a good thing. I have my own life to live and many stories to tell. Still, you have to hand it to Suzanne Collins for creating such an enthralling series.

In July, I read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery aloud to the kids and Todd. More on that below . . .

I also read The Book Thief.
Enormous sigh.
I loved it. I hated it. Now I must read a happy book. Not one about Nazi Germany. Maybe that sounds shallow, but go read The Book Thief and you’ll understand. It is agonizing. I need to read a book about rainbows and unicorns. Or . . .

Organizing! Some people find that uplifting. I just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There's been so much buzz about this book, I finally decided to see what it was all about. My best understanding thus far is that the author, Marie Kondo, is an organizing expert who claims that if you put your whole house in order in one fell swoop, the results will be so dramatic you'll be motivated to keep it that way. Her method is to “tidy efficiently, all at once, as quickly as possible.” It makes sense, and organizing is fun for me, so I was gearing up mentally, wondering how much time I needed to set aside for this overhaul of my entire home.
A week? A month?  
Then I read this in the book: “’quickly’ means about half a year.”
My thoughts: “Half a year of concentrated effort on tidying up? What the what?”
I don't mean to be a party pooper, but clearly she doesn’t have children. At this point, I’m 80% skeptical, 15% hopeful, and 5% reminding myself that an orderly home isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems. I had high hopes and I will keep reading, but I feel a little let down because there’s no way I can concentrate on purging my home for the next. six. months.

Perhaps Kondo will redeem herself and I will find a way to make it work. I hope so.

The kids and I listened to A Wrinkle in Time. I love that book. It never gets old. It’s so raw and real, in a sci-fi kind of way. And I love the Listening Library version read by the author, Madeleine L’Engle. We borrowed it from our local library and I don't know if it's available to purchase anywhere. L'Engle was the best, but this version, read by Hope Davis, sounds like a good one as well.

Where we’ve been going: 

July was our month for traveling! We took twelve days and made a huge northeastern trek. It was wonderful! Exhausting, yes, but well worth it. Our first stop was the Boston area. Some dear friends moved there two years ago and it was so good to reconnect with them. Haven is seven months older than Camilla. The girls lived close to each other for the first five years of their lives, so it’s great to see that they still have fun together.
We also did some Boston sight-seeing while we were in the area. We learned about the Boston Tea Party in our Classical Co-op this past year, so I thought the kids should throw some tea into Boston Harbor themselves!
Next, we went to Acadia National Park in Maine. It was beautiful! I don’t even know how to describe it. We did a tough hike up Cadillac Mountain. We went tide pooling. We discovered that, although we love camping, five days is our limit (at least with a 22-month old and no showers on site). 

And for that reason, we were happy to move on to . . .

Prince Edward Island! We got to relax in a lovely little cottage with a full kitchen and bathroom. Yay! Let me just pat myself on the back here and say that I planned that well. I’m not sure what would have happened had we tried to camp in PEI after camping in Acadia. Having a cottage was a life-saver, allowing everyone to catch up on their sleep! (And bathing!) 

PEI is famous for its red cliffs.

We did some Anne of Green Gables touristy stuff and it was fun, especially since we were reading the book on the trip. I learned a lot about L.M. Montgomery. She inspires me. She wrote beautifully, even in her journals. And, like so many other talented creatives, she had her demons as well.
Green Gables
Anne Shirley aside, it was also good just to relax on this beautiful island. To be disconnected from the internet and even phones for the most part. To chat with some of the locals and experience another part of the world. I think the kids’ best afternoon was spent at the cottage itself, reading books and playing with toys that were new to them.

What else we've been up to:

We'd been home about a week and a half before we launched into a completely new experience. Saturday we brought home an adorable nine-week-old black Labradoodle! His name is Caspian and we love him!

Photo Credit: April Roskos
I’ve never had a dog before! We’re determined to do our best with the training and raising of this precious fellow. It’s certainly a lot of work, but I’m trusting that putting in the time now will pay off as he grows up to be a faithful friend for many years to come.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I'm Into--April 2015

Spring is finally here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was beginning to wonder if it would ever come. I think that happens to me every year—at least when we’ve had a long, cold winter. It’s been so good to get outside this past month in the sunshine and green grass. There are even some flowers blooming!

What I’ve been reading: 

I finished A TreeGrows in Brooklyn. It was a beautiful book. Not a quick read for me, but full of rich, weighty words that touched my soul. I have to share this passage, close to the end. As I read it, my eyes filled with tears. This is exactly the way a big sister would want her little brother to say good-bye to her. Before she goes away to college. Before she gets married. At the end of the long childhood years they’ve weathered together:
". . . Monday, I have to go to school. And while I’m there, you’ll be getting on that Wolverine train for Michigan. There’ll be no chance to say good-bye to you alone. So I’ll say good-bye now.”
“I’ll be home for Christmas, Neeley.”
“But it won’t be the same.”
“I know.” He waited. Francie extended her right hand. He pushed her hand aside, put his arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. Francie clung to him and started to cry. He pushed her away.
“Gee, girls make me sick,” he said. “Always so mushy.” But his voice was ragged as though he, too, was going to cry.
 Isn’t that just beautiful? In college, I had a professor who would read a passage he especially admired and say to us, “If I wrote those words, I could die happy.” I guess that sums up how I feel about this book.

The kids and I read StrawberryGirl. When I started it, I thought the Florida backwoods dialect was going to be annoying, but it wasn’t. It was fun. So much so, that sometimes I slipped into the rhythm of their speech without thinking about it. Okay, I only did that once, but still . . .

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this to the world. (Because, you know, the whole world reads my blog!) I got sucked into The Hunger Games this month. A few years ago, I thought about reading the books but talked myself out of it because people told me I would find them too disturbing. They were still on my “someday” list, though. A couple weeks ago, Todd and I were looking for a movie to watch on Netflix. Have I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the movies available for streaming via Netflix? They have some great TV series available, but the movies are limited and sometimes I miss our old one-dvd-at-a-time plan because there were so many good movies available that way. Anyway, the second Hunger Games movie was available—Catching Fire. I wasn’t thrilled with starting the series with the second movie, but Todd was eager to watch it, so I gave in. And now I’m hooked. I loved the dystopian future perspective. Well, I shouldn't say I loved it. It was brutal, but I found it so creative--and important. Todd keeps teasing me that I’m going to get into Twilight next and I keep disdainfully saying that Hunger Games is not like Twilight. (I haven’t read Twilight or seen any of the Twilight movies, though, so I can’t really judge them.) After seeing Catching Fire, I went on to read The Hunger Games (the first book) in approximately 33 hours. On Friday, I rented the movie from Redbox and discovered that I had ruined the movie by reading the book. After we watched it, I ranted to Todd that the book was so. much. better. Now I just have to clear 48 hours in my schedule before I crack the spine of the second book. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Katniss and Peeta! Oh, and Gale, too. Please excuse my enthusiasm . . .

Other happenings from April: 

We had a wonderful Easter, celebrating our risen Savior. I don’t think I’ve blogged much about it, but we have a new pastor at church now—and a new worship team. Todd is super-stoked to play drums with some very talented musicians. It’s not an exaggeration to say that they rocked out for Jesus on Easter Sunday! Also, my kids looked adorable!

I helped host a baby shower for a friend at church. It was a blessing to celebrate this new little life as we look forward to her baby’s birth. 
Camilla with the mother-to-be!
We took the kids to Philadelphia for a field trip with some other families from our homeschool co-op. It was so cool! We toured Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell. I loved seeing Ben Franklin’s old stomping grounds. You know, history is my thing. I think the kids learned a lot too, but they were mostly happy to hang out with their friends.
The two big kids by a guard house at Independence Hall.  

And one thing from early May:

I can’t write a post without sharing some super-exciting news! Early Monday morning, I was honored to be present for the birth of this sweet baby girl!

My dear friend, Susie, asked me to support her during labor (along with her husband and some awesome nurses). The only other births I’ve attended have been those of my own children. While those were sacred experiences in themselves, now I can say with more conviction that the birthing room is Holy. I felt so blessed to be part of the team of people cheering Susie on as she worked with the Creator to bring forth life. This woman has proven herself a rockstar mom for the fifth time!

I’ve often wondered what my passion for natural childbirth might lead to in the future. I’ve toyed with the ideas of being a Bradley Method Instructor or perhaps a Doula. Witnessing birth was so amazing, I just might pursue something like that in the future, when the kids are a little older.

For now, my plate--and my heart--is full. I’m looking forward to the rest of May. Let the renewal and healing of spring continue!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Relief

Remember Five Minute Friday? It's been so long the host has changed! But here I am, recovering as a writer, so I'm trying my hand at it again.

The prompt this week is Relief.


We came together. I came together with them all for the first time in a long time. Old women and young women—girls, some of them. And she told us we had come to the well.

“Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

He said those words so long ago, but He says them to us still. You’ve been through the desert. Come to me. Come to the well. You are thirsty. Drink.

And the water flowed, from our eyes, as we lifted voices in prayer. As we took steps of faith, baring our souls. The water flowed into our souls. The healing balm of Gilead came from our palms with the laying on of hands. The water from the wellspring of Life. The Giver of Life. Rushed into our hearts.

Women, we are strong. We will be strong. But when we are tired, we will come to the well. We will not be backstabbers and gossips. We will love each other well on the path. And we will come to the well together.


Okay, I may have slightly broken the rules by editing a little bit . . . I just can't leave it alone!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I’m into—March 2015

Today, I’m trying something new—linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been doing in the month of March.

What I’ve been reading:

I’m always trying (or sometimes just wishing) to fit more reading of good books into my life. On Goodreads I made the lofty goal of reading 40 books this year! I also joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2015 Reading Challenge. First up was a “book I’ve been meaning to read,” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It took me a long time to read it. I’ve heard so many rave reviews that I thought I would love it, but I didn’t. Honestly, the story really dragged until last third of the book. Also, I believe, in reality, all witchcraft comes straight from Hell. For a long time, though, I have been wanting to read this book before Camilla started asking to read it. She hasn’t asked yet, but she could absolutely handle the reading level so I’m glad I finally read it. I know a lot of Christians love this series and just dismiss the witchcraft deal as part of the story. I’m okay with that for my own reading, but I’m not sure how I feel about a book for kids that makes witchcraft seem cool. In a few years, if Camilla really wants to read it, I think I’ll allow it as long as we discuss the material as she reads. (Is that too controlling?) And then I guess I’ll have to try to stay ahead of her in the series! Other Christian parents, please chime in and let me know how you feel about your kids reading the Harry Potter books.

I've just started reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is “a book my mom loves.” Funny, I know I’ve heard my mom mention this book before, but when I asked her what book she loves, she gave me this title without hesitation. I didn’t know she loved it that much, but now that I’ve started reading it myself, I can see why. Rich, beautifully-crafted prose is just one of the things I love about it so far.

As part of the homeschool curriculum we’re doing, we’ve read some good books together:

The Cricket in Times Square was wonderful! I remember hearing about this book as a child, and it was a really fun read. We all loved it!

Captain Nobody was all right. The story was intriguing enough to keep me reading and the kids asking for more, but I found some of the characters annoying and some plot points were not believable. I really don’t think the author has much experience with children. Perhaps he was a very responsible ten-year-old himself at one time, but I don’t know many that age who are taking care of themselves for the better part of the day, cooking breakfast for their families by themselves, and acting as a personal assistant for their realtor mother. 

Here’s what else I’ve been into . . .

Being the Tooth Fairy! My little boy has a gap in his smile now. He lost not one, but two teeth in the space of a few days! I threatened and cajoled his older sister into keeping her mouth shut about the identity of the Tooth Fairy. So we kept up the charade after the first tooth. It helped that Todd was the one who actually slipped the silver dollar under his pillow. I could answer without guilt that I was not the Tooth Fairy. After the second tooth, though, I proved Adrian’s suspicions true. In my imagination, I believe his line of reasoning went something like this: If there actually were a real Tooth Fairy and it was her job to take the tooth and put some money under my pillow, then she wouldn’t forget to do it or be too busy. No, that’s more like something my mom would do!

That’s me, folks. Mother of the year!

Watching “the baby” grow up way too fast! She’s running around, climbing stairs, and talking a blue streak! Oh, and reading chapter books. You know, she's a little advanced (wink, wink). And God forbid I put her in time out. Oh, the drama! This is what eighteen-months-old looks like.

Being “almost positive” about our school choices for next year. Well, definitely positive for Adrian. I ordered his Kindergarten curriculum yesterday. (I love Sonlight!) So he is staying home. And Camilla is going back to school for third grade. Ugh. I hate to say it because I will miss her so very much. But I think this is the best choice for all parties involved. Maybe I will write more about that sometime.

And waiting, hoping, wishing for spring! I love winter. I do. We had a great ski season this year. In March, we had one last fling with the slopes and now we’re done. We’re ready for spring. And then March 31st dropped another snowfall on us! It’s pretty, but . . . on April 1st, buds and blooms are so much more beautiful. And that’s what I’m longing for.

Still, a parting photo. I snapped this after we dropped Adrian off at preschool this morning.

That’s what I’m into. What are you into?