Friday, November 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes

I told myself that today I would do Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes as a way of getting the old blog rolling again. So here are seven things going on in my life.

1. I have been keeping the iPod under my pillow at night. No, this is not so I can play Angry Birds while my husband is sleeping (*avoiding eye contact and whistling*), but so I can read scripture on the Kindle app before I get out of bed. Nothing too heavy, just five or ten minutes reading the Epistle of James. Have you read the Epistle of James lately? "Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, because the anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God." If I could master that one sentence of behaviour, my life would be radically altered.

2. I continue to work on NaNoWriMo, but have had a major hiccup. I have been working on the novel for 45 minutes in the morning before the kids get up. That seems to be my most productive time of day for writing, even though it means getting out of bed at 5:45. But something about the writing process has started giving me migraines, with light splotches and blind spots in my vision. So far the vision problems have subsided if I sit in darkness for twenty minutes while the kids watch a movie, but the last two days I have not written at all because I did not want to bring on another one when it was time to take the kids to school. I had finally found a writing schedule that worked for me, so this is very discouraging. It feels like the ability to write keeps getting taken from me.

3. I have been hooked on Downton Abbey, thanks to Melissa Wiley and Wrath of Mom. Currently, I am stopped where Mary sabotages Edith's marriage to Sir Anthony - I just couldn't watch that much spite. I am too involved in the characters and then I get heartbroken. But in a few days I will not be able to suppress my longing to know what happened, and then I will watch again.

4. It is Veteran's Day today, and my girls plan to make cards for our next-door neighbor, whom they love, and who is a veteran of five military campaigns. If you have a neighbor with a similar history, a few moments of kids with construction paper and crayons may make a big difference in his or her day. Even if it's a day late.

5. Books I am reading:  I finally bought a copy of Shusaku Endo's Silence, a book I have been wanting to read for ages. I read the preface and then I stopped, because I know it will be emotionally stark, and I want to read it courageously. November is probably not the time to do that; too many distractions.

Instead, I am reading our book club's selection of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a young adult fantasy novel. So far, it's pretty good, though I have not reached the central mystery of the plot yet.

The kids and I continue to read aloud through Elliot and the Pixie Plot. They loved the first of the Elliot books, and are enjoying this one too, though a couple of confusing editing mistakes in chapter eight diminished our joy slightly. We read the book aloud at the dinner table before they finish dessert. Only the oldest two reliably listen, but I still count that a win.

6. We have finally settled into the husband's five-day-a-week work schedule and the girls' school schedule, but the result is that I get almost no time away from the children. Even my solitary work-out at the YMCA (which has free babysitting!) has been absent from my life this week because of my back injury (which is almost all healed up, thank you). I am a classic introvert who needs time alone, so this much constant company begins to tear me down. I desperately need a break from the kids, so the husband and I decided that a solo overnight trip would be a good thing for me in early December. I have never done this before (not since becoming a parent, anyway). I'm a little nervous. I think I will be going to the Cleveland area, but I haven't entirely settled that yet.

7. Once again, my in-laws are visiting for Thanksgiving and my mom-in-law insists that we eat our big meal at a restaurant (which she pays for). On the one hand, this is very generous and I love that there is no clean-up. On the other hand, this has happened so many years now that my kids don't really have a sense of what home Thanksgiving traditions are. There is also the added wrinkle that my mom-in-law respects my abilities as a housewife more when I cook (which she hates to do).  When I don't cook, she tends to see only my catastrophic failures at tidiness (unlike her house, which  is always tidy). So I am wondering if I should insist on a home meal next year. Your thoughts?

Aaaaaaand in the brief moments it took for me to write this post, the children knocked over a cup of cocoa on the bookshelf and now I have about twenty books to wipe down. Cheers.


  1. SEVEN. Oh, SEVEN. Cooking is the ONLY housewifely chore I am even reasonably good at and I almost never have cooked my in-laws a meal.

    Any ideas for books for my youngest? She's currently between stuff and BORED.

  2. Would your mom-in-law go for a compromise, where you buy the turkey and fixings prepared, but serve them at your home with a few desserts or sides you and the girls make together? You could do some of them before your in-laws arrive, and freeze them.

  3. Tell your MIL it's important to you for your girls to have a sense of a traditional homemade Thanksgiving meal. Also, you'd like to give them the opportunity to help prepare it while they are still young.

    Regarding the slow-to-anger verse in James---my husband and I came up with something to help us remember it a few years ago. We say "stay" when we feel anger rising. It stands for Slow To Anger ~ STA. It's a nice one-word code of sorts that pops to mind easily. It helps us. Might be worth a shot.

  4. Jeana, I don't know if my mom-in-law would see that as very different (still lots of clean-up), and I don't think I would enjoy it very much. I like to cook. But as I was writing this, I realized that in another two yeras, all my little ones will be in school, so maybe I could wait till then. Then I could cook in advance for a few days without little-hand interference.

    Beck, I am going to read Thirteenth Child next, I think. I also heard a great interview yesterday with the author of Dragon's Tooth, which sounds fascinating. But I haven't read either of those yet, so i don't know if they're good.

  5. I'm with Gretchen. Although I hate to cook, and dread Thanksgiving when it is at my house. (It almost never is.) Last time it was at my house my husband made the turkey, my mom made the rolls, I bought the pies, and I mostly made peripheral stuff that I couldn't mess up like mashed potatoes and salad.

    I hope your vision issues go away. How frustrating.

  6. I'm trying to figure out how to propose a solo night away to my husband. He's in the military, so he's frequently gone and for some (absolutely crazy) reason I'm homeschooling. I'm not sure how it will fly. Any tips?

  7. I'd go for a home dinner next year, for a reason having absolutely nothing to do with your MIL: You want your kids to have those memories. Ergo, you must manufacture those memories. Perhaps since your MIL likes to clean, you could cook and she could do clean up? That's the arrangement my MIL and I have :)

  8. Tracey, it took years of me saying "When the kids are bigger I am going on a trip by myself. Be prepared." Add my general gloominess lately and he was okay with it.

    Three Fire Wife, that is actually what usually happens when my in-laws visit: I cook, my mom-in-law and my sis-in-law clean up. I would have to be VERY insistent to make anything else happen, and my mom-in-law would end up feeling less comfortable rather than mroe relaxed, so it defeats the purpose. I think that's actually a large part fo why she wants to go out every year: she is uncomfortable not being the one "doing" for everyone else. I try to respect that.

  9. And now I see I misread Thee Fire Wife for Three Fire Wife. And I wondered if your family had survived three fires because WOW, that would be a story.

  10. Husband asked me what I want for Christmas. And I said, I dunno, "four nights where I can sleep when I want." and he suggested that I go to the B&B down the road from my parents over Christmas. That way, I could pop in if I need to, but also have space. I blinked. I realized that I need alone time for me, but also I miss being with just him. He and I work fairly well being alone together, if that makes sense. But a night away would be good.

  11. #2 - I never cease to be amazed by all the things that start going wrong when I try to get writing done. Do you think it could be Resistance, a la the War of Art?

    #6 - That's wonderful that you might be able to hook that up. As a fellow introvert, I can't really overstate how much getting the occasional break to have quiet time and catch up on sleep helps me. Have fun!

    Thanks for joining in!

  12. I am going to do one of those things I get annoyed at when other people do: give unsolicited advice. I ask for your forgiveness in advance of my obnoxiousness.

    I had what I thought were migraines for years. My doctor recently re-diagnosed me with tension headaches. I would get the same light sensitivity and spots in my vision, etc.

    I am wondering, when you are describing it happening when you are writing, if it is possible you are having tension headaches. The posture you are in, etc., might be exacerbating the issue.

    Here is the actual advice: a lot of stretching of the neck/shoulder/arm muscles, moist heat on them, etc.

    I am done with being an ass, now.

    I love your 7 takes and I hope to read more of them.

  13. Oh, I just noticed comment moderation is on. If you don't want to publish that comment because of the unasked for advice, I am cool with that!

  14. Downton Abbey -- I'm pacing myself, too. It's so delish.

  15. I'm very interested in reading that Miss Peregrine book. I read a review of it at some point (everything's a blur these days) and I added it to my to read list. Post a review! (um, please)