Friday, 24 October 2014

At the end of the week

Ah. We made it through another one, didn't we? Another week is winding up and we survived; maybe we even did some things well. Maybe we even did some good along the way.

There were a few challenging moments, though, weren't there? A day when our patience just wasn't where we'd like it to be. A morning that began with an argument instead of a connection. An easy way out that turned out to be decidedly not worth it. Doubt instead of trust. Old habits instead of new. By what we have done and by what we have left undone, we wronged others and ourselves. And there is not one of us whose week can live up to the highlights shared on Facebook or Instagram.

But we woke up each morning and we tried again, and cheers to that, eh? We sought to right our wrongs, and we faced again all the worst parts of ourselves, seeking better. We did what we could. Some of us made lists, some of us made plans, some of us prayed, and some of us just took another brave step and then another.

Whatever we went through and however we got through it, here it is: the weekend, for whatever that may be worth. Oh, it has challenges all its own, to be sure, but I still say it's worth a decent something. A pat on the back and an extra piece of chocolate, at the very least.

I don't know what your week looked like. Mine looked like staying calm through a broken bowl, cleaning up the pumpkin guts spread across the floor, and then losing it over a spilled bucket of soapy water. I yelled about that spilled water and about endless messes and for that matter, what about the mess in that other room that still hadn't been cleaned up? It wasn't good or right or true or necessary, but it happened.

This week I braved the wind and the rain to take the kids hiking with some friends, and the weather decided to be kind to us after all. Three hours later, we were back in the van, eating cheese while I fed the baby before beginning the drive back home. My autumn comfort zone focuses mainly on warm blankets and hot apple cider, but I did this and you know what? Good for me.

This week I sat down to draw with the kids, reproducing our garden-grown pumpkins with orange and green and brown pencil crayons. Oh, I could make that sound so good. Look at us, drawing the pumpkins that we grew in our own garden! Isn't that lovely and perfect? But reality had me ranting about how he didn't even look for the pencils that I asked him to bring, the pencils that were right there in the jar where they always are, and that's not the right paper and we need pencil crayons, not markers, [exasperated sigh]. And then I kvetched some more because they weren't enthusiastic about another project we had planned to do. I mean, why can't they just be the perfect little characters in my self-directed play, where I plan something exciting and they grin cheerfully and everything looks like the picture in my head says it should look? Some days I forget that they're living their own individual plays, all of us intersecting, wandering on and off each other's stage. It can be beautiful when I don't try to control it all.

I handled some challenges gracefully, stumbled my way through others, and utterly failed a few of them. I did poorly and I did well; every week is a bit of both. Easy moments and hard moments, successes and stumbles, I've not had a week that hasn't seen them all. Soon we will head onward into another Monday - but for now, it's the weekend.

Well done, and enjoy.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

What I Am Into - September 2014

What I Am Into :: September 2014

Our fourth sweet baby was born just one short hour before September began, and that rather overshadows anything else that may have happened in the past few weeks. However, as said baby very rarely allows me to have two hands free with which to write, well, anything - not that I'm complaining! - I thought a nice chatty What I Am Into post might do nicely for now.

On My Nightstand:

I may not be able to write much while snuggling a baby, but I can read. Continuing with this summer's love of all things Story, I've found myself drawn primarily to fiction and memoir.

I began the month with Wally Lamb's We Are Water, a random selection from the library shelves. It was engaging and well-written enough, but I finished and felt like all I had done was read about an assortment of dysfunctional individuals, unhealthy relationships, and disturbing situations. There was no sense of satisfaction when I closed the book. On the other hand, it probably wasn't the best post-baby book choice. A little too raw for the moment, perhaps.

Speaking of raw, I continued the month with Glennon Melton's Carry On, Warrior. I wasn't certain whether or not I would finish it, as I quickly realized that it was mainly composed of essays regurgitated from her blog, but there was enough new material that I couldn't bring myself to put it down. Just one more chapter...and one more...and one more. It's hard to find someone who can get so directly to the heart of everything the way Glennon can.

My MIL distractedly handed me Conor Grennan's Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal during a short just-passing-through visit with their new week-old grandson at the airport. It was so much fun to be able to stop by for them to meet the newbie, and I didn't give the book much thought until we got back home. It sat on my desk for a couple of weeks before, having finished Carry On, Warrior and unable to find something else interesting at that particular moment, I picked it up and thought I'd give the first chapter a go. And then I didn't put it back down until I was finished. It was so well-written and engaging, heart-rending and entertaining, just perfect and lovely and inspiring. I loved it.

With that done, I browsed our library's e-book section and chose at random The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It seemed to have good reviews, but oh, it was boring. Dull, dull, dreadfully dull. I couldn't even get past the third chapter before I gave up and returned it.

Still, nothing beats e-book rentals for those late-night what-am-I-going-to-read-next attacks, so I browsed my wishlist and remembered I've been meaning to read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. This is turning out to be a perfectly absorbing novel; although it was not emotionally easy to read, it felt purposeful and touching. 

Currently on my "up next" list are Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, Lois Lowry's The Giver, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

On the screen:

The Doctor has returned, and there is basically nothing else worth mentioning once The Doctor has entered the conversation.

The Twelfth Doctor has pretty much won me over already, although I do still dearly miss Eleven. As for his companion, I loved Clara last season, but I'm less attached this season - if only, perhaps, because I know she'll be gone soon. The Time Heist was one of my favourite episodes ever, and definitely my favourite of the season so far. I'm curious as to where the various unresolved threads are heading - Missy, Pink, and so on.

In My Kitchen:

The lovely husband has been commandeering the kitchen most evenings this month, but I've slipped in from time to time to do a bit of baking. Energy balls, monster cookies, lemon thumbprint cookies, and (my personal favourite) pumpkin custard have all satisfied various cravings these past few weeks.

In My Memories:

September was, understandably, a slow month, and we stuck close to home more often than not. We were blessed by a few different visits from family who wanted to meet the new baby. When we did venture out, it was to visit a couple of parks to hang out with other homeschoolers in the area. Speaking of homeschooling, the boy finished another Life of Fred book and learned how to play both Chess and Othello. His younger brother worked on firming up his letter recognition. Baby girl temporarily became a giant after her baby brother was born, but she seems to have shrunk back down into a typical two year old again. Phew.

The husband and I have been spending many of our evenings with some newly-discovered board games. Pandemic was introduced to us by my sister-in-law, and our marriage thanks her profusely for this - having a cooperative board game is Very Good for those evenings when a competitive one would leave one of us feeling a bit grumpy about losing. It's like we're five, I know.

Still, a bit of competition can be fun too, and for that we've been relying on Power Grid lately. Because of Power Grid's unique turn-order rule that handicaps the game leader, the final results are nearly always very close. There's no winning by a landslide with this game. When we first opened the box and read through the rules, it all felt a bit intimidating, but actual game-play turned out to be quite simple and intuitive. We've enjoyed it so much that we've purchase both the Robots expansion and one of the new maps.

Both of these games are great family games, too. The team-based approach to Pandemic means that we can talk through the best moves together, and if one of the kids drops out, it's no problem. Power Grid has proven to be simple enough for the boy to tackle on his own - in fact, he's won the game twice so far, to our minor embarrassment. The four year old, meanwhile, joins forces with the autonomous robot, which carries on smoothly without him when he gets bored and wanders away from the table.

What I'm Looking Forward to in October:

Although the month is starting off on a bit of a low note with the husband heading out of town for two weeks again, the kids and I will make the best of things by driving up to visit their Oma and Opa for (Canadian) Thanksgiving. Which means I'm basically begging everyone for all the prayers, luck, and well-wishes that they can possibly offer, because eleven hours in a vehicle with four little children sounds like the craziest idea I've had in ages. But getting to spend a few days with my lovely in-laws will be well worth it, I expect.

Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?

Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...