Friday, March 28, 2014

Chasing Birds

Toddler fists hold the seeds tight
Toddler feet running fast encased in wellies bright,
His voice is loud and clear,

The brown wings spread wide
The red breasts skim the barren dirt.
They wait for him to go inside,
And then they have a feast!

~Caitlin Mallery

Monday, March 24, 2014

On My 25th Birthday

There are a few time of year that lend themselves to reflection, self-analysis, and goals. The most obvious is the change of calendar year. Another common one is the start of the school.
I find that my birthday is another time that approach myself with a critical eye towards growth and change.
This year I am 25.
A milestone birthday
Back in Dec/Jan I created a board on Pinterest dedicated to 2014.
I filled it with ideas about what I want to do, a few goals, and have since filled it with things that we have done. When the board started I found this:
Key words to think on as I plotted out goals and dreams for the coming year.
Life has given me a lot of curveballs in the past few months, and I have felt the weight of adulthood in a whole new way. From January 1st I have considered myself 25, and it is coinciding with some dramatic life changes. Moving forward from old desires to new visions, accepting the stage of life I am in, learning the difference between what I like and what I love. The path the Lord has laid for me is not always how I thought it might be, but it is defining and shaping the woman I am to be.
I am learning my limits: physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Be Inspired
I am reading books that intrigue and interest me.
Be Original
I am figuring out that what I admire about someone else is not always the right thing for me.
Work Hard
I am planning my days around being pregnant and raising two toddlers.
How I handle my weaknesses affects my level of joy, as well as my family's joy.
When I look back on this year I think I will be able to say that the Lord worked deeply within my soul. There has been and will continue to be changes, changes which I hope will clear my heart and head for the joy and peace which He promises faithfully.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Paradoxes of Happiness

Accept myself, and expect more of myself.
Give myself limits to give myself freedom.
Make people happier by acknowledging that they're not feeling happy.
Plan ahead to be spontaneous; only with careful preparation do I feel carefree.
Accomplish more by working less.
Happiness doesn't always make me feel happy.
Flawed can be more perfect than perfection.
It's very hard to make things easier.
My material desires have a spiritual aspect.
Hell is other people. Heaven is other people.

~Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

Happier at Home is Gretchen's follow-up to The Happiness Project, which I am hoping to read next month. I really enjoyed Happier at Home, it seemed to balance out some of the materials I have been reading on home management and the like. And I can always use balance in that area. 

Visit Rubin's website The Happiness Project

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March Days

So spring comes, at least that's what the calendar tells us!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Legend of the Shamrock

Long ago, when Ireland was the land of Druids, there was a great bishop, Patrick by name, who came to teach the word of God throughout the country...This saint, for he was indeed a saint, was well loved everywhere he went. One day, however, a group of his followers cam to him and admitted that it was difficult for them to believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Saint Patrick reflected a moment and then, stooping down, he plucked a leaf from the shamrock and held it before them, bidding them to behold the living example of the "Three-in-One." The simple beauty of this explanation convinced these skeptics, and from that day the shamrock has been revered throughout Ireland.

~source, Irish Blessings

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Am I Reading in 2014?

February was an incredibly busy month and March is laid out to be even busier. Still, it has been nice to have a stack of books that I am eager to pick up in a spare moment. I usually have one sitting on the piano in the living area, and I find it easy to read a couple of pages when the children and chores are not demanding immediate attention. I am finding that the right reading material can actually inspire me to continue forward in my daily tasks.
So here is what I managed to read over the past month.
Loved, loved, loved this book. Tsh's style really grabbed me, and I was inspired by the vision of living intentionally. I appreciated the flexibility with which that vision was presented. How it looked for the Oxenreider family is fascinating, but I know it can and will look entirely different for the Mallery family. I am re-reading this more slowly.
So after reading her latest book, I decided check out her first book from the library. Definitely interesting to note how she has grown as a writer in the four year gap. I find this book helpful and so much better than "Large Family Logistics" which I had been reading. I would recommend "Organized Simplicity" above it for sure.

This was a book I borrowed from my sister and finally got around to finishing and returning. I think I may need to re-read it during a slower time of life.

I am still in the middle of this, but am reading it super fast. It falls into a similar category as "Notes from a Blue Bike" and I am totally enjoying the authors style. At times it seems like someone who is just thinking out loud about how to be happy.

I was given this book last fall, and while it was an easy and pleasant read, I am happy to reshelve it. While I would consider myself a definite Narnia fan, I become tired of constantly finding Christian references in the Chronicles. I am not denying they exist, but I just want to enjoy the stories the way I enjoy many stories. They provide wonderful examples to children of nobility, courage, and other attributes (which I believe all good children's literature should). When I introduce the books to my kids I want them to love them, because then the learning comes naturally. I don't intend to read them with a guidebook of character questions. So this was good book for those who need a jumping off point for deeper conversation.
There you have it! I am delighted to have covered so much ground over the past month-ish, and feel like I am getting into the reading groove again. I am trying to stick with books I want to read, rather than the ones I feel I should read. I have stopped a book or two because it was becoming an obligation rather than a joy. As a mother I do not have time to read something I don't really want to, and no one is forcing or expecting me to read anything. My reading should be helping, not hindering, my journey as a mother, wife, and woman.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Childhood Favorite

Something about March weather always makes me dig up my copy of "The Secret Garden."
Days that are rain-soaked and chilly, walks through mud and puddles, days where the sunshine just seems happy to be out. The anticipation of bright blooms and soft greens, when the sight of a bud makes you do a happy dance. (Actually, I squealed when I spotted a budding tree on the way to church the other day! Totally shocked Roman.) Welcoming the robins, and other songbirds with open windows and breezy curtains. The weather is far from warm right now, and we still could expect snow, but spring is coming!

Frances Hodgson Burnett's tale of two selfish, spoiled, and miserable children is a hopeful one. A reminder to look past the bleak and difficult winter to the humble beauty of spring. The ever-cheerful Martha inspired me to learn how to skip rope to a hundred. Who didn't want to be friends with Dickon and his creatures. And their mother, Mrs. Sowerby sounds like the sensible and affectionate woman that I wish to be to my children. Even the grouchy characters, like Mrs. Medlock and Ben Weatherstaff seem to soften around the presence of the children's growing contentment and joy. There is hope that things will become brighter and happier when you work hard and forget to be selfish.

The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind. The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, blue sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky so blue. In India skies were hot and blazing; this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead purple-black or awful dreary gray.
  "Aye," said Martha with a cheerful grin."Th' storms over for a bit. It does like this at this time o' th' year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin' it had never been here an' never meant to come again. That's because th' springtime's on its way. It's a long way off yet, but it's comin'."
~Chapter 7, The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
I think I need to do a spring photo session with my kids in their wellies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Building Your Vocabulary: Baby Talk

I love listening to my children learn to talk. From the first coos and babbles to hearing "Mama!" spoken recognizably to my toddlers mixed-up sentences, the sound of their voices is a delight to my ears. In my experience, every child learns to talk a different rate. In some families children are very slow to move beyond the basics, while other families have non-stop talkers. My parents love to share about all their experiences with me as a very young talker. (I am their first-born, so it is much easier to remember.) A one year old with an impressive vocab of 40ish words, who would talk to anyone who took a moment to listen. Neither of my children have been quite so voluble as that, but they have a good grasp of a variety of words, and Ethan can speak in sentences (not grammatically correct of course). Considering that I am their mother, and that their father also has natural ease of conversation, I am not surprised. It seems to be in the genes.

Recently someone made a comment about my child's speech. They were impressed with Ethan's level of conversation and made the observation that I must never have talked "baby talk" to him. The comment surprised me! Why would it make a difference?

As I think about the massive amounts of parental advice and training books on the market, I recall seeing articles from certain doctors and therapists who encourage speaking to your child in full sentences, and being very careful not to use any baby babble. There are others who encourage babbling, music, poetry, reading to your kids, sign language, and a lot of other methods for teaching our babies how to communicate. Hearing tests, toddler speech therapy, and families who are bilingual are addressed all over the mom blog world. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a different result. And most kids do learn to talk, eventually. So what I have done to ensure my children learn to talk? Honestly, it is pretty straight forward, I did what came naturally to me.

From the womb I talk to them, not because a book or doctor told me too, but because I wanted to. It is more often a conversation with myself that I sometimes direct at the baby. "Your big brother made such a mess? Are you going to do that too?"

From the time they are born I talk to them, because I enjoy talking. It is not a conversation describing everything or teaching. It is mostly observing, admiring, and thinking out loud.

From birth I have read to my kids, because I love to read. I collected story books, and usually read several right before naptime each day. Occasionally, Ethan decides to "read" a book to me. His rendition of "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" cracks me up.

Both Roman and I are careful to use 'please' and 'thank you' when we take something from our children (even something they are not supposed to have). Both Ethan and Saoirse learned to say 'thank you' very quickly. 'Please' took a little longer.

And I talked baby talk with them. I still do. Short sentences, incorrect word order, raspberries, tongue clicks, babbling. You name it, I do it. The process of learning our language takes time, and I like hearing their mixed up speech. Eventually, we will teach them the rules of grammar, and boundaries of speech. Right now they are trying new words and seeing what happens, and it is way too cute to correct.

Poem: Book Learning A few thoughts on the glut of parenting books.