Wrapping It Up: May and June
So it’s been quite a while since I have posted anything here. I am missing the blogging and writing but am also feeling a bit more balanced in other aspects of life- actually a lot more balanced. I just need to figure out if I can ever really add writing back in….and if I can, how and when! But here’s a bit of a catch up for those of you left wondering…..
My Writing World
Well- It’s been vacant. I haven’t written a blog post since the end of April. I haven’t worked on a manuscript since maybe the beginning of April- might have been March. I haven’t even corresponded with my critique groups which appear to be disappearing from the radar. It seems I’m not the only one lagging. I never did complete the course work for the class I paid for. All in all, the writing world is off the map right now. So on to other things….
My Book World
Well my reading has certainly picked up. I became determined at the end of May that I was going to enjoy my summer- and while I have LOTS of work to do over the summer- I became determined to read some really good books! Thus far I have been quite successful. I have already read more this summer than I did all of last! While I constantly have several books going (apparently the Charlotte Mason in me I had always critiqued harshly but was - and is - apparently a good quality to have) I haven’t necessarily been keeping up with the fiction the way I use to. And while I love all my books, it’s fiction that speaks to my ability to relax, enjoy and I guess speaks to the empathetic me that longs to run away from real life every once in a while. I say empathetic because I read a study recently that says those that enjoy good fiction tend to be more empathetic to others than those that don’t. I can certainly understand where that might be true.
So what have I been reading? Well along with my typical nonfiction selections:
My Goodreads ‘Currently Reading’ list is certainly growing….with the books I’m currently reading for myself as well as the Living Books I’m adding on that will be part of my youngest son’s curriculum for this year….but more on that below!
Our Parenting/Homeschool World
Summer is here at last! We started summer vacation before the end of May-starting it with a trip to see Grandma (my husband’s Mom) in Cleveland whom we haven’t seen in probably a year or so and followed up with a nice visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo on the way back. I wished we could have slid in a visit to my own mother on the way since we were in the general area but other duties called us back home. Another trip a week later had us allowing animals to eat out of our hands at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax PA and a trip to the Whitaker Science Center in Harrisburg on the way to a graduation party for the daughter of a dear friend.
With summer here, my oldest son is ‘school free’. My youngest is a bit different. I really would like to move to a sort of all year schooling for him so that our time on academics is more relaxed as well as more flexibility for vacations and other things that arise out of nowhere. So while we are certainly enjoying the summer, it’s mixed in with an hour or so here and there of ‘school materials’--- which really, at this age, he doesn’t even know is really ‘school’.
I am convinced that the Charlotte Mason method is the way to go for us, so while I immerse myself in reading about her methodology, nature study, narration, etc., I have elected to begin with year one of Ambleside (an excellent website offering a laid out ‘curriculum’ that is made up entirely of Living Books). I won’t go into detail here on why I determined to start on year one although my son is only 5, but suffice it to say I put a lot of thought into it and am looking forward to the flexibility this will offer us. I am actually on day 3 of week one according to the Ambleside schedule and it hasn’t felt like school at all.
Our Food & Health World
My husband is astounding me with his dedication to eating a Paleo ‘diet’. I hate calling it diet because of the horrible reputation that word has with horrible, anything but healthy weightloss fads. However, that seems to be the go-to word that involves anything with food. It's really more of a lifestyle. And most importantly, it’s HEALTHY. It just so happens that yes, he IS losing a tremendous amount of weight. Is that the only reason for someone to go ‘Paleo’? No… it’s just a huge benefit of eating this healthy. He’s lost at least 69 pounds so far since doing our extended Whole30 starting back in February.
So now with summer upon us, I also have more time to read a little more about this and search for ways to make this healthy lifestyle more affordable and accommodating to my time. It’s worth it, but I do NOT want to spend all my time in the kitchen. So I’m experimenting with recipes and menu times. The biggest realization I’ve made, is I try too hard to always please the whole family and keep things new and interesting. I need to just aim for SIMPLE!
Speaking of family, I also decided to not take part in making a family meal during our get away with my side of the family this summer. It was a difficult decision to make. I feel like I’m backing out of an ‘expectation’ that may leave other family members upset. But I knew I had to make the decision that was best for my husband and myself (and my son who we are testing a gluten free diet on)– so the decision had to be made that I am cooking for he and myself all week and will not be able to do that family meal. (Traditionally, every family takes one night to cook for everyone else so that they are only in the kitchen one night out of the week- an excellent set-up- unless you have known issues with food like my family does…and then it gets a bit burdensome). But regardless of how the rest of the family takes it, I have to stay steadfast in my heart and know I’m doing the best thing I can. I’m still looking forward to a great week and am hoping to come up with a week’s worth of simple meals that I can just throw together or even make ahead for the most part. And some desserts and snacks too!
Our Faith World
I'm really happy that this month on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, I celebrated being Orthodox for 11 years. It's been a wonderful journey and I'm thrilled to be on it. I do feel Orthodoxy saved my marriage many years ago and has kept me on path that brings me closer to God...though I certainly have a long way to go! Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!
While not Orthodox, taking part in my woman’s book club and reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality has really strengthened my relationship with God. It has made me more aware of my time with him and others and His role in every aspect of my life. I think that participating in the group has increased my ability to absorb and put into practice what I’m learning from the book.
What I’m focusing on the most these days is keeping the ‘Sabbath’ and spreading my time with God throughout the day instead of just once or twice with morning and evening prayers/bible reading. For a long time, I’ve wanted to work on keeping the ‘Sabbath’ holy…. I can even remember as a child wondering why we were doing chores and things on Sunday instead of enjoying one another( and, unfortunately, being chastised for it).So I’m really evaluating how to set that one day a week aside and keep it for worship and rest. Meal time is the trickiest part of that and my husband and I are brainstorming ways to do this. I used to do leftovers on Sunday- thinking that at least kept me from planning a meal and throwing ingredients together, etc. But that leads to cleaning out the refrigerator and a whole mess of dishes at the end- thus probably just as much work if not more sometimes as cooking something simple.
I’m also trying to work more prayer time/devotion into the day. I used to set my alarm on my phone for the daily hours- so I could at least stop and meditate, say a small prayer, etc. I start the day out with a couple minutes of quiet listening, a devotion, a psalm and then reading a book – it might be the bible or it might be a book about Orthodoxy- anything that will lead to contemplation about God and keeping Him a constant in my days.
What do you do to incorporate the Sabbath and devotion into your days?
Other Parts of My World
We are getting used to having a pool. unfortunately it's been a large pain in my ..... budget. (What did you think I was going to say?). HAHa! Having someone else open it for us since we didn't have a clue how to do that was certainly more costly than I expected and we have run into our first 'chemical ' problem this week that left me paying $70 for chemicals.....I HATE chemicals.... but have not taken the time to research a more natural method. 🙁
We are enjoying the nature here in our new home. My youngest son and I try to take nature walks as often as possible. Today we observed two deer in the back yard and then, much to my dismay when I went to go check on the pool this morning I discovered a bat hanging by the skimmer basket! YIKES! He's gone now......whew!