The Bookmarked Life is my take on catch-all posts–a record to help me remember this season of life.
Right now I’m:
I just finished a book about a family who spent several years in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia during World War II. With very little advance warning, they were able to pack a suitcase before being taken away, and as it turned out the mother chose very wisely, both in practical items like fabric and cod liver oil, and in bringing a Children’s Bible and a small painting that provided small spots of beauty and hope in the squalor and terror of those years. I’ve thought before about what I would save if the house was on fire or we had to escape from something, and most of the items I list are of the feed-your-spirit variety. I figure some things are easily replaced (clothing, books, kitchen utensils) and some are not (pictures my great-grandmother painted, a crystal decanter that’s been in our family since before the Civil War). As a child I moved around a lot and so my sense of home is very fluid, but there are a few items that make home for me wherever we are. I think the mother in the book made a wise decision in allocating some of her limited space to that painting.
…Furnishing My Mind
Jack turned eight last week, and asked that his birthday cake be themed “Harry Potter. Or Batman. But preferably both. And shaped like an eight.” With that creative direction, I cobbled together a vague approximation of Harry Potter and Batman playing Quidditch, and the contrails from their flight making an 8. I used a gold dragee to make the Snitch. Not my finest work, but Jack seemed pleased. Right now Jack’s favorite things are reading (especially fantasy and adventure), riding bikes, jumping off of high and dangerous things, making up rhyming songs, wearing bow ties, and building with Legos. This year his curls are pretty much gone, but fortunately I furnished my mind and my photo archives with his formerly lovely locks, so all is not lost. And he’s still very handsome.
In an unrelated aside, Hannah taught Eliza to curtsy. In case you wondered, few things are cuter than a just-turned-two-year-old performing a curtsy!
I got Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course when it was on special for $5. At the moment, I have good morning and evening routines in place, and most of the material so far is things I’ve read about in books (including Crystal’s!), but I thought it would be worth having the course because while my routines are solid now, they do shift as children enter different stages and I knew that it would be a good reference for those episodes. One thing I do in the evening that helps us enter the next morning more smoothly is to take a few minutes to set out everyone’s independent assignment for the day (usually part of a math lesson, some handwriting, and copywork or a writing assignment) and update our whiteboard with the next day’s plan. The kids have really liked being able to reference the whiteboard to see what’s coming next, and I like being able to defer the zillions of “what’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” questions I would otherwise receive. I redecorate the board for each month and then just have to switch out the date, day of the week, menu, and daily happenings. These two simple things take me about five minutes total to do at night, but save a lot of hassle in the morning.
…Living the Good Life
We went strawberry picking this week (local friends, check out Fields of Joy – it’s a great place and is owned by a family that goes to our church) and had a great time. We came home with about 20 pounds of berries, of which many were unripe, overripe, or had already had bites taken out of them (thanks kids!) but for us it’s most about the experience not the harvest. After we picked berries the kids climbed trees and ran around with a friend who joined us and had a blast while the moms relaxed and had a chat in the shade.
I’ve loved the term schedule we adopted this year (6-7 weeks on, 1 week off, 1 month off in summer) because it has helped us to avoid burnout and I think it will make the re-entry after summer break easier (after three months off last fall, we had to spend a lot of time reviewing). But it is hard to hold the line when the neighbor kids are all on summer break and we are still doing math. However, I’m trying to stay firm since getting in a couple of extra weeks this June will mean I can take a bit of a maternity leave this fall after the baby arrives.
After reading about it on The Art of Simple, I decided to try writing down 10 ideas every day on different topics to boost my creativity. So, for example, I might list 10 How To Books I Could Write (example: “How To Handle Laundry For A Family of Six Without Wanting to Defenestrate Yourself”) or 10 How To Books I Wish I Could Write (example: “How To Spot Reduce Fat From Your Thighs”) or 10 Ways to Incorporate Refried Beans Into Every Meal. They don’t have to be good ideas (see previous reference to refried beans) but it really is challenging to get ideas 7-10, especially when the topic is deep or wacky. It’s fun. Try it.
After reading an entire book on being overwhelmed, one of my takeaways is that to make this whole working/homeschooling/parenting thing work I really need to work on not splintering my focus. When I’m trying to review document edits for a work project, help someone with math, and keep an eye on the stove, it makes me feel pulled in too many directions and stressed. Some things have to be multi-tasked and many things don’t matter. I don’t feel the need to give 100% to menial housework. However, in terms of work and my family relationships, I do need to move toward focusing on one important thing at a time. As Brigid Schulte wrote, “When you’re riding Icelandic ponies, RIDE Icelandic ponies.” That struck me as funny so I added it to my desktop inspiration frame.
A friend loaned me her hypnobabies set, and because I’d rather not have a reprise of the difficult last half hour of Eliza’s birth this time around, I’m dutifully listening to the affirmations in hopes of changing my mind about birth. It’s mostly “birth is completely natural…my body was designed to deliver my baby…I focus on everything going right” type stuff. But some of it offends my analytical nature. “I deserve a comfortable, easy pregnancy…Birth is easy and comfortable…” What is this deserve business? And if I can expect a completely comfortable pregnancy, what is the meaning of this back pain and vein trouble and epic nausea?!?! I plan to keep at it for a bit longer, and maybe work through the getting rid of fear part but I’m not sure this is overall a good personality match for me. Have any of you tried hypnosis-for-pain thing?
What are you bookmarking this week?