#FridayReads & WIPs

It’s time for the weekly round up! I got a little flustered in my goals. But you know, what’s new? I do it to myself. I checked over two dozen books out at the library a few weeks ago. Go figure, I’m still in the midst of them. I’ve been doing my darndest to knock them out, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. I found out that three books couldn’t be renewed because others had placed holds on them. It set me up for utter failure. I have one I could finish tonight [i.e., The Book Thief], because it’s YA and I can just listen to the baseball game while Dr. M is out devouring yummy seafood. We’ll see – my bed also looks lonely and I might have to doze off in it.

The other two novels are not “cramming in” novels. They were both solid looking, and I didn’t want to short change the experience. So, I’ll return them and request them at another time.

Still, I finished a good deal. I’ve been working on The Warmth of Other Suns. Friends – there are no words. It’s amazing. Pick this up! A macro and micro look at The Great Migration, and an inspection on how the United States is still [STILL] wrestling with the aftermath of slavery. I’ll freely admit, I have to read it in small chunks because some of the brutality of Jim Crow is overwhelming. Still, a must read.

Sophia and I finished Little Farm in the Ozarks, the second of the historical fiction series of Rose Wilder. I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, a mystery novel based in England but traverses all sorts of time and location. It was wonderful, and I read it in a day, it was that captivating. I also finished One Plus One by JoJo Meyes. This I picked up because I had read You Before Me; please know, you will bawl your eyes out on that one. One Plus One was good, too, just in a different way.

The other novel I stumbled upon this week was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I grabbed it because it was the NYT Bestseller’s List, and thought, “Why not?”

Why not, indeed? It turns out that the heart of this novel is set in Charleston, SC. Ahh, caught your attention, didn’t I? It’s about the abolitionist & feminist Sarah Grimke, and a historical fiction read on her evolution of coming from the upper caste of Charleston society to a fuller understanding of how vile and obscene slavery was. She eventually turns Quaker, and is a speaker and writer against the institution of slavery. Of course, my interest is peaked – it’s set in a city I’m slowly beginning to call my own, wrestling with a topic that I don’t think even the city itself has come to terms with, and is highlighting an obscure figure in history, Denmark Vesey, who as a free man attempted a slave revolt and paid with his life. Handful “Hetty” Grimke’s parallel story as Sarah Grimke’s slave is riveting, surrounded by her mother, Vesey, and her sister, Sky. It can be a hard read at some points. Hmm, but that’s the point right there, isn’t it?

*Just a side note: A few of these following novels came from The Modern Mrs. Darcy, and her wonderful Summer Reading List; see here: http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2014-summer-reading-guide/ . The amount of work this blogger has done to give her readers a wonderfully compact yet diverse list of reading material is incredible. Based on her recommendation alone, I added all of these to my own To-Read list and am slowly working through them. Trust me, there is something for everyone here!

Friends, all of this, thanks to the local library. Oh man, do I love our branch?!

All of this, thanks to the local library. Oh man, do I love CCPL!

As far as knitting goes, I’m honing in. I have a tendency to write and DO ALL THE THINGS! Sometimes, it pays off. Other times, it leaves me incredibly overwhelmed and feeling like I’m falling behind. This last week, I just focused on one major thing that seems to just take forever. It has an official end date, and has to be ready to be shipped out at a certain time, and I just need to focus. So, I’m doing that. I finished Dr. M’s other tie, and then said “No more!”

You know, until next week.

I’ve also been checking out the dish cloths on Knit Picks; they’ve been posting free knit patterns, and in the effort to learn new patterns, I’d been practicing on those. I finished the “Pip Stitch” one this week. I’ll have to say, this is my favorite one by far. It has grooves to actually clean, super cute, incredibly practical. I might just stop and make all my dish rags like this from now on.

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What did you all read out there this week? Given my wait lists at the library and the ever changing NYT Bestseller’s List, I know there’s been some serious reading going on – let me know what it is!

The week, in recap

How is it that a short, holiday week can just seem even more busy? No worries now – it’s Friday, meaning pizza & drinks all around!

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It was delightful. I’d kind of forgotten that I liked pepperoni pizza, what with us mostly making cheese & sausage. We’re liking the pizza crust more and more. There’s been a few times when it’s been too … doughy. Blech.

We’ve fixed that problem. It’s now crazy delicious.

Even with Gabe pulling all sorts of crazy hours, I did manage to get a few things done. I finished a knitting project. Dr. M was excited.

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As soon as I was done with it, he threw it on, and then rocked it all day. A fellow friend requested one, which I feel like is high praise. And maybe he’ll get one, just for the compliment.

I’m in the midst of a couple different WIPs, including some gifts & dishcloths. I am not if anything but practical and pragmatic.

#FridayReads is happening, too. Look at me, being all on time and whatnot.

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I decided a few months back I really could read 100 books this year. Maybe it’s crazy. Still, it’s beauty of the library & blogs with amazing suggestions. This week, I’m trying to finish up some oldies, but goodies, including The Problem of Pain, Notes from a Blue Bike, & Evensong. I read a wonderful memoir/cookbook, The Sweet Life in Paris, and another memoir, but with baseball (squeal!), Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It was delightful, and I bawled at the end. Combining the death of her mother & the Brooklyn Dodgers leaving for California was about the saddest thing I’ve read in awhile.

We’ll finish off the week with our standard Friday Night Movie Night – we’re in the midst of the Marvel series, with Iron Man 2 up for tonight. With that, I say adieu!

Ready? Reset!

And here we go – Monday. Everyone gearing up? We are too, with plenty of coffee in hand.

To be quite honest, I’m looking forward to a fresh week. I kind of lost my bearings late last week, some things didn’t get finished, groceries weren’t bought. Well, some groceries were bought. They just didn’t last very long. And all of the sudden, Costco is still calling my name, and I really don’t want to go on a holiday. So maybe, I just won’t.

We’ve been at the school gig for two weeks now. We’re a bit sleepy. We’re grateful for Labor Day. My kiddos and I will honor previous unionists & dedicated American workers, while sleeping in and staying in our pajamas all day long. And yes, I fully understand the layered ironies here.

The kiddo starts art classes this week. We found a new location, and I’m eager for her to get started with some actual art instructors. We had her signed up last year, and she came home brimming with eagerness, new ideas, and the desire to decorate her room with amazing pieces.

And then they moved. We were sad. Very, very sad.

The old place moved across town, and as much as she loves art, I couldn’t justify an hour & half drive for 45 min of instruction. Then, I used the good ole internet, and found a new place close to her school.

Perfection!

I’m sure we’ll have photos of her amazing work.

The toddler continues on in his crazy antics. Bonkers, this kid, bonkers. I have yet to meet a more tactile, extroverted kid. He’s a lover, that’s for sure. He’s still bonkers. He still clears my kitchen cabinets out, my pantry out, flushes the toilets nine times a day [for no reason, other than he can], opens the dishwasher [for no reason, other than he can], and is just in general, chaotic nonsense.

But then …

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I mean … come on. This. Kid. Meltin’ hearts, daily.

What’s going on in your lovely weeks? Vacation time? Work time? Everything in between? Leave a comment below!

Looks like we made it [a new iPad cover, that is]

You know those weeks where you have wonderful, great intentions and silly life gets in the way of you accomplishing a million, gazillion things?

That was this week.

In the win column, Sophia started school, had a wonderful week with her new teacher, and I got her to school on time. Yea!

In the “meh” column, Gabe is [still] working on two big, fat molars, we think he’s sick with something else a big more dramatic, and due to both of the previously mentioned issues, decided to pull a handful of midnight wake up calls.

I am a horrible, rotten person without a full nights sleep. Add that sound reason to the ever growing, why we are not having anymore children list. *Full nights of wonderful, glorious sleep* Done.

So, the house has gone to rot. Thankfully, Dr. M loves a clean house so he steps up and does dishes and picks up and all the wonderful things that pile up quick with four humans. I decided to knit anyway my frustration and tiredness, and make a couple of things for myself.

They don’t mention when you start a new hobby that people will really, really want them to knit you things. So you make blankets and hats and scarfs and everything else for everyone else, and months go by and other people have things that you made, and you have none.

It’s all good. I just wanted something for me.

I decided I wanted a new iPad sleeve. The one currently in use is fine. It’s black, it holds the iPad up when needed, it’s utilitarian. Did I mention, it’s … fine?

Mine might be a bit less ‘useful’, but it looks nice. I also learned how to Seed Stitch appropriately; I had learned the basics of the stitch a while ago, but not the little things that make it looks seamless and nice and cozy. Also, glass cover – protected. That’s all that really matters.

I started with this basic pattern, literally called Simple iPad Cover [http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/simple-ipad-cover]. It’s stockinette, it has no flap, and is easy to knit up.

Unless you try to do it late at night, mess up a row, not realize it, and then keep moving on. So, then you’re frogging and you’re frustrated and you give up.

The next morning brings wonderful things, though, like the idea of making it with the Seed Stitch. So bumpy, so stretchy. So adorable.

You’re going to work the front of it first, but not know how to change colors, so you’ll have bumps in color change rows. And that’s … okay. But as you go further along, you’re not satisfied. Not frogging unsatisfied, but unsatisfied. So then you’ll google around, and find a way to do it better. [See this lovely video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyrS6drPZtE%5D

So you’ll go along, and realize you also don’t know how to appropriately bind off when knitting in Seed Stitch. So, you’ll google things again, and find the best way [See also, this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z41dK7TSvWk%5D

You already know how to knock out buttonholes, but you’ll watch the video over and over to make sure you really know how to cable cast on. And you do. Yea! [See this, if you'd like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY4vBzLo-Xs%5D

And after a couple of days, you’ll get this …

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See what I mean, about the bumps? I’m not super worried about it, but I knew there could be better. And I was right!

I’m mostly impressed with myself. Considering I’d severely adjusted a pattern, kind of winged it, and you know … novice knitter and all.

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And there it is … knitting one row before beginning the seed stitch pattern worked. Perfect!

And so, there it is. A new iPad cover, a happy first grader, and an almost better toddler who is in love with modern medicine & ibuprofen. Anything creative going on out there? Anything you’d suggest on knitting? Throw it at me, and feel free to comment below!

Fresh Starts

‘Beginnings could happen more than once or in different ways.’

- Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

 

It’s been a bit quiet over here for a while. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say in this space, to be quite honest. Even now, I’m still wrestling with what my voice will sound like, look like – I’m finding I’m more comfortable with the thought of that, and accepting that it’s totally okay to not have all the answers for how the blog should look. I tend to not do something [okay, a lot of things] because of my ever present fear of failure, rejection and potential humiliation. I also absorb styles, voices, templates, and other blogs m.o.’s, to the point that I’m not sure what is my voice as opposed to a parroting of someone else. So these are baby steps, to restart something creative in my life and do it just because I want to, to see what’s really in my soul and thoughts.

I feel like one reason why the blog stumbled a bit last time was due super specific kiddo posts. That is, after all, where the idea for this space started, due to our major move. But one kiddo is old enough to be aware that social media exists, and rather consistently will only grant permission for a photo with the caveat of “But don’t post it! Wherever you post it to, don’t do it!” [Even that, she probably wouldn't love that I just shared]. I do respect social media autonomy. And her autonomy, just in general.

Beyond that, my life is more than just the kids.

Ha! Ehh … sometimes, anyway. I like to try and convince myself of that.

As I continue, they’ll be around, too, but I am going to free up space for what’s going on with all four of us and not feel like I have to box myself in. Do I want to write about knitting? Cool – that’s what I’ll do. Do I want to talk about the thousands of books I read this year? Awesome – there will probably be some really bad Instagramed photos of their titles. Will I make you totally jealous of my new-ish location with beach photos? Definitely. Do I want to throw up a dozen photos of the kids, while I’m at it? Totally [with permission, of course].

Will I also talk about world topics, national & local drama, or whatever else I’ve been mulling over in my mind? Probably. Potentially yes, anyway. Will I talk about things that I’m interested in, but maybe don’t know a ton on? Yes – hopefully with humility, tons of questions, and a smidge of wisdom, with the hope that the wisdom will only grow.

Whatever this space ends up looking like, I’m hoping you enjoy the journey! Also, pictures of the kiddos. Because let’s be honest, they’re cute stuff that I can reel y’all back in with! [And yes, she approved of the photos this morning, knowing they'd be widely dispersed!]

Also, come on? How do you not share this one? A mischievous pair, these two.

fabulous, restful weekends

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

- Sir John Lubbuck

Happy mid-week, folks! I certainly hope this post finds all of you doing well this week, feeling well this week, and not merely surviving the week. Though, if that’s where you are, it is Thursday. [Say it with me: One more day, one more day, one more day ... ]

One more day until the rushing and the bustling and the coming and going pauses. Allow yourself some time to rest; to sleep in [as late as your kids allow you to]; to go to that Farmer’s Market; to drink a cup of coffee as slowly and deliciously as possible; to read, and rest, and find some peace.

We had that kind of weekend just a handful of days ago. It began with our awesome, fantastic #FridayNightMovieNight. Sophia chose Hugo, the Scorsese film about wonder and adventure and secrets and good friends. It was a delight to watch again.

Dr. M had an intense work week; among his normal duties, they had two job candidates in that required research & teaching presentations; plus extra research; plus everything else. When it rains, it deluges, am I right? Needless to say, he was burnt out. So, we decided to intentionally go slow about Saturday, and not rush about anything. Typically he works through the weekend. Not so, this past one. We watched, and introduced, Sophia to Napoleon Dynamite. It was a bit over her head; she giggled when we giggled, clearly following our promptings, and she decidedly loved the dancing sequence at the end. We loved the opportunity to just sit, and giggle, and quote lines that we’ve now known for close to 10 years.

We lounged, we read good books, we decided to go to the park at some point, we stayed in our pajamas way past the point of typical social acceptance.

In short, it was awesome.

Sunday was great, as well. Sophia and I went to church, while Dr. M stepped back into work and hung out with Gabe. That li’l guy doesn’t always do well at church, so it was a win/win. We ate bad-for-you macaroni and cheese, and sleepily watched football until we just caved into drowsy naps.

Normally, I’m very excited for Mondays. I tend to get bored over the weekends; I feel especially pent up with the kids over the weekend, and I don’t like the lack of structure. Not this weekend.

This weekend, I mildly dreaded the grind of the upcoming week. I wanted the loose scheduled we had created over the past two days. It was lovely.

That being said, it was just the refreshment I, and I think all of us, needed. I woke up on Monday, on time and ready to workout [gasp!]; Sophia was well rested and ready for school to kick off; Gabe was in a fine mood all day. We had been so busy recently, running around with the folks and then the next week struggling in survival mode through my stomach bug. This Saturday and Sunday helped rejuvenate us in an amazing way.

We’re in the midst of another normal, typical week, but I’ll say my attitude is significantly different. I am beginning to see the value of rest; not just for its own sake, but also as a catalyst to be a more proficient worker, a better mom with a smile on my face, a more agreeable wife who helps to carry the stressful load that is being a junior professor.

I hope this upcoming weekend, even as it sets up a busy holiday week for many of us, is one of joy and rest and comfort. Even if it’s just one day of this weekend, find a spot to be still and calm and allow that rest to restore you. I’ll probably be greedy, and hope for both!

family visits & family love

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”

- George Bernard Shaw

It has been busy, busy in the Mighty Milner household. Between Fort Sumter, school performances, stomach bugs, teething & the Holiday of Lights display, these last two weeks have been an utter blur.

Dr. M landed safely & securely from Denver. He had a heck of a time at his latest conference, hanging out with old and new colleagues. He was super tired once he landed [he doesn't remember most of our conversation on our way home from the airport], and crashed hard once home. He pulled himself together, though, and got back to grindstone the very next day for work.

Sophia had that Monday off due to a teacher work day, so she helped me clean the house. Grandma and PopPop were headed this way! Yea, yea, yea! She was super excited to realize that not only were the grandparents coming in all their glory, but staying for TEN WHOLE DAYS! She was psyched, I was psyched, everyone was psyched. Even Gabe was excited; he didn’t do his whole “I-seemingly-hate-men-with-beards” thing and scream when they walked in the door. So, that was nice.

We had a full ten days in good ole CHS. We celebrated Halloween [Sophia was IronMan - not IronWoman, by the way. Get it right, other parents. Yeesh.] Mom & Dad saw her school, they took us to Savannah for a day-trip [super fun, by the way, and we'll definitely be headed back again], Dad & Dr. M went to Fort Sumter and came back gushing with all sorts of new facts about the Civil War, and we walked all over town and ate way too many delicious, over-filling meals. They also watched my kids, took Sophia to the movies, did my dishes, and blessed me in so, so many ways.

I texted Dr M this brochure - he was all the more excited to head to Savannah the next time around!

I texted Dr M this brochure – he was all the more excited to head to Savannah the next time around!

We headed to the famed Leopold's Ice Cream shop. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe [this is Honey Almond Cream, in their waffle cone] Oh my!

We headed to the famed Leopold’s Ice Cream shop. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe [this is Honey Almond Cream, in their waffle cone] Oh my!

Grandparents. Are. Awesome.

I got a huge break Friday morning, when my parents shoved me out the door, gave me some cash, and said “Don’t come back until school is over.”

Yeah, you don’t have to tell me twice.

I went to a bookstore. I ordered coffee; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found titles that desperately wanted to read. I went to clothing stores; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found clothes that filled out my wardrobe for both now and the summer. I shopped for Christmas; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found the perfect paper, the perfect ribbon, the perfect gifts.

A book I knew I wanted to buy, and was excited to see on the shelves of the local B&N. I read it in a day, and will definitely reread it as I continue on my faith. It's amazing.

A book I knew I wanted to buy, and was excited to see on the shelves of the local B&N. I read it in a day, and will definitely reread it as I continue on my faith. It’s amazing.

Never once did I say “Sit down”; “Get back in the cart!”; “And just where do you think you’re going?”; “Oh, okay, we’ll find a bathroom ASAP”; “I know you’re tired, just five more minutes”.

It was heaven. Seriously – heaven.

*All moms of small children, you know you’re nodding with me*

They left on Saturday, after a send-off breakfast. Those good-byes are always so sad; so full of thank yous, I love yous, of almost tears [that later morph into real ones]. The kicker this time around is we have no definite date as to when we will see each other again. We’re not going to Kansas City for Christmas, so the next guaranteed time is summer. That’s a long, long way away. Sigh.

Sophia was definitely sad. We swapped stories about how sad we were, and about how when I was a kid, I used to be sad when I had to say good-bye to my Grandma Dee. She’s smoothed out now, and is focused on Atlanta and Thanksgiving and the next round of family she gets to see.

No sooner had my folks left than I got sick. It was/is no good. I thought I had indigestion, because let’s be real – I ate like I haven’t in a long, long time. We had a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday and I ate a funnel cake at the Holiday of Lights [awesome, by the way - the lights, I mean]. So, I chalked it up to bad food and tried to get through my day. But I didn’t get better. It’s now Day Six, and I’m mostly better. I tried to do too much on Wednesday, and paid for it yesterday. I slept all day long, which means Gabe had free reign of the iPad, because it meant he would actually sit still for more than five minutes. We snuggled on the loveseat after the school run, and when he went to bed, I went back to bed myself.

apparently I have the stomach of an 80 year old woman. and I didn't even finish it. yeesh.

apparently I have the stomach of an 80 year old woman. and I didn’t even finish it. yeesh.

I’m 90% sure I’m on the mend now; I woke up this morning feeling much better, and wanting to do things that normal humans do. Like, eat real food and drink coffee. Y’all know I’m sick when I can’t handle coffee, and I absolutely could not handle it for the last five days.

But, there’s always something to balance the good, right? Gabe is teething [I'm pretty sure it's all four of his #4s - oh. my. god. He is a crabby mess]; Dr. M came home yesterday, worn out and sick with a head cold. I’m crossing my fingers that he’s not totally, super, stuck in bed sick. We’ll see. Sophia is fine; she had her own fair share of illness last month, and I’m hoping we all get it out of our systems before the holidays. We’ll leave it on a positive note. How do you see this smile, and not feel happy? Try it, I double-dog dare you.

see? she's peachy-keen and loving herself some Cheetos.

see? she’s peachy-keen and loving herself some Cheetos.