Monday, September 15, 2014

Twitterature - September 2014

It's the 15th, and that makes it time for Twitterature with Modern Mrs Darcy: a fun, bookish linkup that asks us to list what we are reading with a 140 character or less review.  (I am not good at keeping it to 140 characters.)

Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub (paperback, library loan) - My friend, Nancy, invited friends to a Sugar-Free August challenge, and one of the members posted a link to this book.  I knew it was what I needed to get me thinking about lessening sugar in the house again.  I could probably write a post about just this book alone and my thoughts about sugar.  I was not in the mood for a health book, and this memoir about a family going another level into doing away with sugar was just the ticket.  I keep renewing the book because I want to read parts of it again.  #dextrose #DrLustig 

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher (Kindle purchase) - I have been meaning to read this since it came out.  My blog title is a nod to Fisher's blog, as I am quite certain I read something, somewhere on it that explained her blog's title in a fun, cheeky way.  Simcha needed to sit down in a way that I needed inspiration, if that makes sense.  So here we are!  This book has received high praise and does not disappoint.  I appreciated her insight, wit, and non-Church-Lady approach to a fascinating subject.  This is not a how to on charts and thermometers; this is why and how-to in a relational way.  A behind-the-scenes, real-life look at NFP.  I definitely recommend it.  #areyoucurious #nfp

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (digital, library) - Modern Mrs Darcy posted a comment on her Facebook page about sitting next to someone at the pool who cried through the ending of this book, and when the reader told Anne which book it was, Anne let her know she understood.  Well, now I understand, but I got stuck at anger.  If it had been after kiddie bedtime, I probably could've gone into the ugly cry.  I loved Louisa.  I enjoyed Moyes's writing; it was the first of hers I've read.  Honestly, I'm still trying to come to terms with this one.  At the very least, I appreciated a well-written glimpse into the life of someone confined to a wheelchair with quadriplegia.  #icanteven #sigh 

Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan C. Pinsky (paperback, library loan) - This book had been mentioned a couple of times over at Modern Mrs Darcy, and I think she mentioned it again recently.  So, I clicked the hold button on my library's page, and it came not long after!  No wonder Anne recommended it: it's good!  I've read a book or two on organizing, and this one takes things to a new level because she's some sort of organizing ninja.  I like a good push to get rid of things, and this was definitely a good push.  For example, she lays it all out for downsizing pictures:  two pictures of a birthday party is plenty.  Eight is probably sufficient for a vacation.  Challenge yourself to ten pictures to describe your year.  When you think about it, why not?  Just because you can take twenty pictures on your digital camera, doesn't mean you should keep them.  Pinsky is funny, too.  I've cackled out loud at some of the things she's said.  This might be a new favorite.  No one in your family has ADHD?  Don't let that deter you.  No one in mine does either, but Pinsky has the right stuff.  These tips are for all.  #setupforsuccess #keepingitreal

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl (paperback, library) - I feel like I have been searching in vain for a good chapter book to read aloud to my 6.5 year old son.  People seem to love, love Dahl; so, I brought this book, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox home to try out.  I was able to read this to him in one sitting, and it cracked him up.  But here's the thing: I had to censor the word fat more than once.  I didn't like how it was being used.  There's no need to describe people that way in a kids book.  There just isn't.  I opened up James and the Giant Peach and found more things to censor.  Beating James?  More censoring of the word fat?  No thanks.  Unless someone can convince me otherwise, Dahl is going back to the library and staying there.  Maybe I'll try Little House or The Borrowers again.  #disappointed

Did you read any of these lately?  What are you reading right now?  Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

To Keep or Not to Keep: Childhood Things

I brought home some possessions from my childhood home recently.  I am almost 37 years old.  I should have done this for my parents years ago because I imagine it would be hard to decide for your own son or daughter what they get to keep from their old rooms.  Besides, it is my stuff.  I need to do the work.  I wasn't avoiding it; I like a good decluttering session.  But I definitely wasn't prioritizing it over my family's daily life.  I've taken some things here and there over the years, but I've never done a Major Cleanout.  As it goes, I was out visiting the folks, and I loaded up the van.

That Spanish family tree was a work of art.

And dumped it on the kitchen floor.

I actually thought about keeping these.  

When I first brought this stuff home, I was a bit overwhelmed because there is more still to come, but I knew I could work through it.  Also, this would mean more stuff to put in the basement, which contains things that are still proving themselves.  We don't really have room for more.

Don't fit anyway!

The longer I thought about it though, the more I realized that my childhood possessions needed to be whittled down even further than I thought they would need to be.  I live with my husband and three kids.  We will likely have more children.  Is the answer to get a bigger house to hold more stuff?  I don't think so.  We could get a bigger house, but it wouldn't be because I want to keep more stuff than really necessary.  I don't even want to keep all of this.  But what is the answer?  

I still had the Parkay margarine tubs that held Barbie's shoes!

How do you know what to keep from your childhood?  Your pom poms?  Your prom shoes?  (Hard to let go of fun high heels.)  Your awesome Barbie case?

The answer is none of those things because if I had to name the top five things I could save from my room they would be:

1) my Anne books (which are, in fact, already saved and have traveled around with me)
2) my framed Anne poster


I don't know what else!

Would that work for you?  If you had to decide what to save without looking at your possessions, could you do it?  What would you save?  If you can't think of it, is it worth keeping?  Was it really that important to you?

So, I took some pictures of certain items and sent them on their way to the charity shop.

We will see how Round Two goes.

What about you?  How do you decide what to keep and what not to keep?  Did you use Parkay tubs to organize your Barbie shoes?  More importantly, do you still have a pair of Dyeables??

Friday, August 15, 2014

Twitterature - August 2014

I love the Twitterature linkup, but I am not getting enough books read to have much to share in my own post!  And so, all I can give you is this:

Anne at Modern Mrs Darcy recommended this title, especially for fans of Eleanor and Park, and that stuck with me at my next trip to the library, where I found the book just sitting there waiting for me.  No interlibrary loan.  No waiting list.  It was just.....there.  Win!

I found the female protagonist fairly annoying in the beginning, but I stuck with the book and ended up enjoying it.  I don't want to say much about why I ended up appreciating it for fear of spoiling your reading experience.  I liked it.  I didn't love it like Eleanor and Park, but I liked the book, even more so after I finished it. I wish I could talk about why that is, but so it goes.

I would also like to take this opportunity to address how mature these high schoolers were in the last few YA books I've read.  Does anyone else feel this way? I read dialogue and scenes and thought: we were not like this in high school.  

Still, I can see why Anne said fans of E&P would like The Sea of Tranquility.  Worth a read.  And I definitely would be talking about the heavier themes in the book with any and all adolescents or teens of my own (not that I have any teens yet, but as a mom, I must say this).

What have you been reading?  Have you read this one?  What did you think? Tell me in the comments.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I want to organize a big, Catholic parade.

My dear, fellow Catholics:

Remember how I told you I like big, bold moves?  Dramatic things?

For quite some time now, I have wanted to organize a big, Catholic parade.  I am talking floats, bands, fellow Catholics cheering on the sides.  Wouldn't it be awesome?


....floats depicting the Joyful Mysteries.  (I call dibs on the Annunciation.) children wearing their Catholic school colors and plaids.


....someone dressed up as the patron saint of the parade.

....our favorite saints represented in costume.  St. Nicholas!  St. Patrick!  St. Gianna Molla!

....floats celebrating our seven sacraments.

....a big flatbed of homeschoolers gently (not hurling!) tossing candy!!!  Yeah!

(Marching dot com)

....the marching bands of local area Catholic high schools.

....beautiful pictures or statues of Our Lady and the Good Shepherd, Himself.

....prints of the only piece of stained glass in the entirety of St. Peter's:

(Andrew Gilbey)

Some of you are saying: but what about St. Patrick's Day?

Sure, that's a good day for celebrating our Catholicism.  It's a little (a lot?) about drinking in some cities.  Do we try anyway though?  Add a little (or a lot) more of our faith?  One could always apply to be in the parade!

Some of you are saying: but what about processions?

Sure.  Actually, I should attend more processions.  They already exist in my community.  Some of them are Eucharistic and require reverence and caution due to the Blessed Sacrament being present.  

What I'm thinking of can be found at time marker 2:53 and beyond in the dramatic, moving trailer of Fr. Barron's inspiring Catholicism series:

What I am thinking of is enthusiastic.  Bold.  Unafraid of being Catholic in a time where Catholicism is reviled.

What I am thinking of is joyful.

"The sure sign that God is alive in you is joy."
- Fr. Robert Barron


Archbishop Fulton Sheen is on his way to sainthood.  When it happens, that deserves a parade, right?

Call me.

Do you like big, bold events?  Would you enjoy such a parade?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm so excited. I just can't hide it.

My actual old pom pons

I am a fairly excitable person.

I like bold steps, dramatic moves.

I like hearing about someone taking a step forward, and it's even better when I get to witness it.

I like tentative baby steps, too, particularly when they are put forth by someone bravely facing their fears.

Sometimes, I get so excited when talking to people, I start to see eyes widen, which chastens me for a while.

Bring it in.  Take a deep breath.  Stop talking 60 miles an hour.  

Or if I'm writing something, anywhere, I notice I have used seven exclamation marks in four sentences:  Hi!!  How are you?  That sounds so fun!  Thanks!!  You look great!!  

Sometimes, I think I should be a more demure version of me.  A little more crossed ankles and hands folded in laps, kind of me.  Periods instead of exclamation marks.

Do you know what I discovered when I took a sample Strengthsfinder test for fun?  My number two strength?


I let that sink in for a while because it struck me as odd.  I've taken all kinds of inventories and they usually say things like empathetic or good listener; cheerleader seemed like a funny word choice.  But then, I realized it made perfect sense.  I love cheering people on.  (Though it's wise to quietly ascertain the intensity and method of the cheerleading required.)  I like to see people going after their dreams, making things work, taking the next step, thinking out loud, sharing their gifts with the world.  It's jazzy, man.  Jazzy!

So, what are you working on?  What are you hoping to step forward into?  Do you need some encouragement?  You'll get it here!  Tell me in the comments.

P.S.  You know who else says be yourself?  Gretchen Rubin.  Great inspiration found in her books.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What I'm Doing in the Morning and Why

It has been a little while since I read Laura Vanderkam's What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and Home, and I have a renewed sense of the wisdom behind the following quotation and other useful tidbits in her book:

"If it has to happen, it has to happen first."

I've been reading books about self-improvement since college, and I understand much of what Vanderkam writes about in her book.  However, as humans go, I was not always putting the wisdom in practice.

What's different now?

My newborn baby is now six months old.  I have grocery shopped with all three children.  (Including a grocery shopping trip where I had to locate numerous new items!  Not an autopilot, regular selections trip!  Hurrah!)  I feel ready to lean into a little more activity, strengthen some habits, and renew focus on life goals.

What do you want to do?

I pray daily, but it can be spotty.

I don't exercise. (Well, I didn't.  I do now!)  At all.  Unless you count carrying around a baby, occasionally in a carrier.

I homeschool and spend quite a bit of time with my children.

We would like more kids.  We are near forty.  We need to be stronger, fitter to keep up with young children and thrive through long days and sleepless nights.

Thus, if we want to exercise and be fit for ourselves and for our kids, we have to make exercise happen first.  We need the strength and centering God graces us with through prayer to live how we want to live with our kids. 

Call me successful!  My morning walk combines:

- fresh air
- quiet, alone time (no headphones!  only sounds of nature and community right now)
- exercise
- prayer time (Yep, that's me talking to myself and occasionally consulting the prayer list on my iPhone.)
- time to think

Things could change, as always, but this is great for now.  I consider this a win.  Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Vanderkam.  Check out her book.  It is well-written.

What about you?  Do you count carrying the baby as exercise?  My midwife didn't buy that as an exercise routine.  ;)  What's your morning routine?  Can you relate?  Are you looking at your habits?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Twitterature - July 2014

As further evidence that I only tinker with this blog in order to participate in Twitterature, I give you my next Twitterature link up post!

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel (hardcover, library)  Fascinating, yet ultimately very sad, behind-the-scenes look at the early NASA missions despite the annoying and disconcerting gossipy tone throughout.  The wives deserved better than this, surely.  A surprising story involving LBJ, Annie and John Glenn, and reporters is what I keep remembering from this book.  #spacerace #gladtolivenownotthen

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider (Kindle purchase)  The essays about intentionally traveling with your children were like a shot in the arm.  Loved those.  Her write up on an anniversary trip was delightful as well.  I've often thought about various issues being or not being a "hill to die on" because of her and could relate to creativity being a wonderful boost when worn down.  #intentionalbutrealistictoo

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam (paperback, library)  I believe this is the paper form of the ebooks of the above title, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, and What the Most Successful People Do at Work.  Easy read but chockful of good advice.  I got my husband and I up and walking in the morning (separately due to kids) and planned a weekend more concretely because of this book.  I imagine I'll be poking around Vanderkam's website and books a lot more because of her solid writing and suggestions.  #moreintentionality #prayandwalk

What about you?  Have you read these?  What did you think?  What are you reading right now?