Monday, March 31, 2014

Mondays are for Grace

"Maturity is the art of accepting cheerfully the fact that something is always out of order."

-- Gladys Taber

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scotland: Hike on Skye

It's funny how you don't realize until after the fact that something will be a highlight of the day, or year, or trip. That's how it was with our simple little hike behind our cottage on the Isle of Skye.

We started out one morning just to explore: the sky was gorgeous, the temperature nice, and the scenery incredible!

Here I am, glorying in a dream come true -- seeing masses of heather in the wild, in bloom!!!! This didn't just happen. I know God worked out the timing as a special gift to me after waiting for so many years to see this.

Hiking up one had just to turn around for another stunning view:

The hills were deceptive -- it seemed like a quick hike to the top and yet the "top" kept moving backward and backward as other hills popped up in between

We passed numerous ruins of old crofts.

And the boys were prepared -- do you see that plastic gun Andrew is holding?!!!

Another glance over the shoulder:

It's a purple mountain! The boys did get to the top of this, but Laura and I stayed behind.

Here's my little companion.

Oh, oh, oh, just look at that heather.....

We noticed that the heather seemed to like to grow where old rock ruins stood.

Behind the shoulders again:

In the distance we saw a horse and pony:

A view of the ancient heather up close:

The boys were always far ahead:

 We girls took our time (Rachel stayed below to do schoolwork and then she and Michael and the boys went up for a second hike later on).

Here are the brave boys:

One of my very favorite pictures of the whole trip:

And then the horse and the pony came down to see the boys:

Cute little things that seemed so tame:

Check out the size of the Shetland pony!

But then the little pony got nippy on us and we decided to hastily leave the scene.

By the time we were nearly home the fog was descending in a mad dash over the tops of the cliffs and the rain hit the roof as we got inside.

It was a most delightful journey!

We had high hopes for a second climb all together the next day but the weather took a terrible turn for the worse and there was no way to battle the high winds and pounding rain.

And that was our hike!!! But there is still so much to tell -- about bookstores and castles and Faery Glens on the island....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Words and Wool

I am making good progress on my Just One of Those Things shawl. I'm still enjoying it very much and happy that it doesn't seem to take forever. Our schedule is filling up with the spring activities like soccer and archery and the nice thing about that is more time sitting in a chair away from home that I can use to work on knitting!!!

Here is the baby boy hat that I couldn't find last time:

Last week we had our final class of the semester at our homeschool group. The girls and I made duct tape necklaces and duct tape rose pins. We all enjoyed it! I am sorry to see the craft class end. The older I grow the more convinced I am that working with this age group is a passion of mine.  

And now for the books. My two goals for spring break were housework and reading (well, I had a few more but quickly realized only two would work). So far I have been able to enjoy a good chunk of reading each day. I'm also adding to my idea list for future books to read. Finding books is a bit like searching for treasures at Goodwill -- it takes work to weed out the insignificant from the beneficial.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown was an excellent book which I wrote a longer review of earlier in the week.

Maple Sugar for Windy Foot by Frances Frost is the "springtime" book in the Windy Foot series. The kids and I read the Christmas book during Christmas break so I thought it would be fun to read the spring book now. It is centered around maple sugar season and describes the whole process as the horse and boy and family story unfold. I love this vintage series!

Stillmeadow Calendar: A Countrywoman's Journal by Gladys Taber is a delightful month-by-month description of what life in the Connecticut countryside was like about forty or fifty years ago. This is the book I reach for first at the moment. Such gentle writing. I see Taber has written many books so the pleasure won't have to end.

Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar is a fascinating examination of the current trend to embrace domesticity and all that it entails. Since I love so many parts of homemaking and crafting I am eager to read this woman's perspective on why she thinks it has made a resurgence. However, I will see if I agree with her by the time I'm done and I'll be sure to share the results with you!

Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal is a mystery set during World War II involving Bletchley Park and Princess Elizabeth and Windsor Castle. Need I explain why I'm reading this?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. I do need to explain why I'm reading this. :) Not my usual choice. However, many of Rachel's friends are reading this trilogy and before I give her permission to read it I need to find out a) if it is something I can permit her to read at some point, b) something I can permit her to read now, c) and what we can discuss about it if she does read the book. Fortunately, I'm nearly half way through and looking forward to returning to my normal programming. :)

As always, for more ideas on knitting and reading, visit Ginny's Yarn A Long.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It's beginning to look a lot, well, not spring! We are having a snowy morning here in the midwest. The children kindly pointed out to me that I'd left our drying laundry out in the snow! Oh well. Onward and Forward! We are on "spring" break and that means I'm tackling tons of housework, which always takes more time than I intend. I'm doing a major overhaul of the boys' room. I'll post results when I'm finished! In the mean time, I guess we'll drink something hot and try to stay warm!

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown was a book I finished last week and wanted to write a longer book review about than I normally do.

In this book Brown deals with the topic of shame and the havoc that reeks in our lives and how we can overcome this.

Shame is a concept that I am growing more and more in my understanding of -- oh not because I haven't experienced it -- rather because I didn't know the proper definition of my many, many experiences of it.

Here is Brown's definition of shame:
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging."

Then, a great chandelier went on in my head when Brown said:
"Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.....Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame."

My childhood and my subsequent adult behaviors made a whole lot more sense to me after reading that! I was conditioned to run from pain of any sort. Brown says that when we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we also loose joy.

She spends time speaking about "shame resilience" which means how to deal with the feelings of shame when it rears its ugly head -- either because someone has just shamed us now, or because we go on believing the voice in our head telling us we are shameful. (Shame loves secrecy, silence, and judgment.)

In a nutshell, shame resilience means: naming the shame (acknowledging it), talking about it, owning this part of your life story, sharing with a trusted person, and using the word shame for what it is. This involves lots of courage, which Brown speaks at length about throughout the book.

Brown also speaks about joy, and urges us onto a life of gratitude because gratitude breeds joy. She goes on to subjects such as comparison, fear, creativity, and letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol. She encourages us to laugh, dance, and sing; to find ways to use our gifts because this brings with it joy and fulfillment.

Brown ends with this question:
"What is the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?"

In short, this was an excellent, and very helpful book. I look forward to reading more by this author. We do not share the same theological basis but I think you can take your own worldview and filter hers through yours. Most importantly, in dealing with shame, I think it is vital to come to a solid understanding of God's never failing, and unconditional, love for His children.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mondays are for Grace

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves
 to recognize how good things really are."

-- Brene Brown