Sunday, 30 August 2015

35/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  his first tooth finally emerged!  On the bottom right, a glint of blue-white bone, but it's cutting good on my thumb!  He's been enjoying playing with his footsies of late, and it's difficult for that reason to keep socks on him.

Afon:  got a haircut this week.  I like how it looks full of body and wave when he wakes up in the morning.  First thing he does is come banging into the room to wake me and Roan.  It's a real treat when he's still sleepy enough to not throw himself onto the bed.  It's the perfect opportunity to capture his rare, introspective look.

We're registering Afon for school this week, with the first month of autumn.  Who is ready for fall?  And how early is too early to dress up a baby in a pumpkin Halloween onesie?  ;)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

3 Steps to Getting a Good Start on the Day

I wrote a little while ago about what you can do to have a spontaneous, beautiful week, but the same things that enrich the week aren't exactly the same things that enliven the day.  After giving it some thought, these are the three things I've determined I must do to have a good start on the day.

(And having a good start to the day is so important because if the day starts well it'll probably stay well. . .)


You laugh.  You shouldn't.  It's so obvious and so hard to do.


By that I mostly mean the internet.  The internet is lethal.

(Sorry, Facebook.  You'll have to wait.)

I can come to it later in the day, after I've got started and feel my self-esteem and sense of well-being spike because of already Being Productive.

Because if you had a magic elixir that made you calmer and clearer and the world sunnier and altogether more easy to tackle, why wouldn't you drink it???


∆∆∆

Okay, now you.  What do you do to ensure you get a good start to the day?  (Because I won't be obsessively checking back for your answers.  Um, no way!)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Yarn Along // puffs baby bonnet


Breaking out the crochet is a real challenge these days, as my arms are almost always full with Roan.  And when they're not, I have to guard the precious project-in-progress from Afon.

I got the pattern for this bonnet from {crochetlatte} (who is also my photography muse), and I haven't put the pom poms on it yet.  I might do little balls instead.  We'll see.

Reading The Queen of Air and Darkness from {The Once and Future King by T.H. White}.  Significantly darker in mood than The Sword in the Stone, but I love how White characterizes the four brothers, Arthur's nephews.  White really knows his {Malory}.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Inclusive Blogging and the Childless Reader

Happy Monday, all!  As a blogger and person who reads blogs, and also someone who has lots of single friends and friends without children, I want to know how we can be sensitive and inclusive to childless readers.  I asked my friend Caitlin to give us the low-down and share some wisdom for the children-at-heart.  Enjoy! -- Christie



First off, I know myself.  It’s not always up to a blogger to make people feel inclusive; sometimes we need to know our own limits and when looking at a particular blog is going to be upsetting for one reason or another.

Also, I think those of us without children (who want them at some point) need to do things today.  Don’t wait to have kids to blow bubbles, color with crayons, lay in the grass, take naps, celebrate the seasons and holidays, make things, play with toys, read children’s books, or twirl in circles till you fall down.  Life is short and precious and there will never be enough time to squeeze everything in. Denying yourself the joy of doing “childish” things because you don’t yet have children is silly and only makes it hurt more.

This is a big one, and it also applies to conversations in real life: please don’t make broad pronouncements about what’s Best for All Babies/Children Ever.  This one really irks me, even though I know it often comes from a place of insecurity and/or concern.  As a mother you know how awful it feels when people judge your choices--now imagine that you haven’t even had the chance to choose.  We haven’t even had a chance to make any parenting decisions, and it is really insulting to hear people state that breastfeeding is the only way to go, or to hear someone laughing at someone else who tried cloth diapers but gave up, or to hear you state that daycare is evil.  Maybe we want to try cloth diapering.  Maybe we won’t be able to breastfeed for one reason or another.  Maybe we have to or want to put our kids in daycare and aren’t lucky enough to have family available to watch our kids.

(There is a BIG difference between sharing your story and what worked or didn’t work for you and Decreeing that All Babies and Children Must _______ in order to be happy/healthy/alive.  Sharing the benefits of breastfeeding is great; writing that formula will cause my child to grow up to be a serial killer is not okay.)

If posting about a particular activity or project that non-parent readers might want to do with or for nieces, nephews, or friends’ kids, feel free to gently point out aspects that might need careful consideration.  Such as: asking parental permission before posting children’s pictures on a blog or social media, securing buttons or avoiding long ribbons on handmade clothing and toys, checking about food allergies before giving kids snacks, etc.  The phrase “just a reminder to be sure to…” at the end of the paragraph is a great, neutral way to mention it.

If you happen to think of small alterations for certain projects or activities that could bump them into the grown-up realm, definitely add them to your post!  Some general ideas: changing the style or color(s), adding a sophisticated flavor that wouldn’t fly with kids or adding alcohol, or changing the intellectual level of a project or activity.  For example, instead of making a project with the book Little Women, make it with Pride and Prejudice.  Or just encourage your readers to embrace their inner child.  The best grown-ups I know are the ones who appreciate children and their world and aren’t afraid to enjoy the childish aspects of life.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

34/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  water is his element.  He can always be found in, among, or around the water.  How appropriate that his name is Welsh for "river."

Roan:  he was 7 months old on the 14th, but I only took his "official" portrait this past week.  He hasn't been sleeping very well at night, and we're just holdin' on for that tooth to finally come. . .


Friday, 21 August 2015

#7QT: In My Commonplace Book

Lately, I've been trying to keep a commonplace book of some kind.  I used to do this before I knew what a commonplace book was, so I'm sort of an old hand at it.   Here are seven examples of what's been populating the ole' notebook lately.

-- one --


{The Cloister Walk} by Kathleen Norris
Liturgical time is essentially poetic time, ordered toward process rather than productivity, willing to wait attentively in stillness rather than always pushing to "get the job done."

-- two --


{The Magician's Nephew} by C.S. Lewis
For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.

-- three --


{Dad Is Fat} by Jim Gaffigan
All moms seemed simultaneously tireless and on the brink of exhaustion.

-- four --


{Charlotte's Web} by E.B. White
People believe almost anything they see in print.

-- five --


Children pay better attention than grownups.

-- six --


{The Sword in the Stone} by T.H. White
Education is experience.  And experience is the essence of self-reliance.

-- seven --


[To learn] is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.

∆∆∆

Some good inspirational sources for getting in the mood of keeping a commonplace book, or just finding material worth collecting, are {Cold-pressed}, {Holy Sparkle}, and {Amongst Lovely Things}.

Do you keep a commonplace book or something like it?  If you're curious, do a google image search for some beautiful historical examples.  Also, {my new favorite movie with Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike} has a really neat commonplace book/journal example!

Linking up with Kelly for {Seven Quick Takes}!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Our life in Wales

It takes a good couple of months to reestablish routines in new circumstances; especially since Afon doesn't start school here until September 1st.  Having him in school built a natural framework for the rest of the day that I benefited from.

I've gained weight, for several reasons: (1) without the tight schedule I've more free time in which to wander into the kitchen and nibble, and (2) I'm still getting accustomed to finding my "smart food choices" in this country.


It's difficult because as we don't yet have a car, we have to make trips to the store almost daily.  I can only carry back so much in my arms, and less if I have one of the children with me.  It is utterly out of the question for me to go to the store with both.

So I'm making use of this very nice service whereby Tesco delivers a smorgasbord of fresh groceries I order online.  What a Godsend!

I do laundry every day.  The minuscule laundry machine fits about a mouthful of things, which are subsequently dried in a tiny drier that ineffectively blows hot air around on the things and collects moisture in a tank to be emptied when it is full into the bathtub.  I get why people line dry over here.  (Hint: it's not just because they're green.)


The weather has been gorgeous; so far, only two days of rain.  It's much different than the Florida summer storms, which come and go like the tempers of tyrants.  No, here in summertime Britain, a sunshiny morning means a sunshiny day.  However, the rainy days have left me a bit bewildered about how people with babies get around without great inconvenience.  I know we ought to just buy a pram (stroller), but I'm trying to avoid spending too much money before immigration (and also of taking advantage of John's extreme generosity in trying to make me happy by getting me anything and everything I want).

Speaking of, I found the loveliest shop in town that is four months new, called {The Lost Sheep Company}.  It's run by the sweetest lady who, like me, has come in her later life under the spell of fibre arts and teaches courses on everything imaginable--from tatting to knitting to {dorset buttons}--in her comfortable and messy setup.  There are at least five spinning wheels in that shop, and one which is so old and blackened which she showed me, under its protective cover, and which she has only dared to try to clean with beeswax.


John let me do a two-hour spinning wheel course with her, and oh!!!  I could go into thrills like Anne Shirley right here telling you about the feel of that spinning wheel--just like I always knew, somehow.  I've never used one until that moment, and I'm sloppy at pinching and slow at feeding the thread, but it felt right.  Like returning to a place from memory.

The spinster left me and Roan in the shop to buy some lavender oil for a burn,  me carding wool while the sound of rain tucked us into a sort of pocket of dry stillness.  I wish I could write the smell of soap-washed, clean wool.  She welcomes visitors and people who pop in for a chat.  I will be returning often.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

#5Faves: In my makeup bag

I'm not a makeup expert, but I love playing with new products, and there are a few things that I've been dying to tell you about; plus a few that are just my daily staples.  Put them all together and you have . . . my five faves--in my makeup bag!
Untitled #3
Clockwise from far left:

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation


Water-based caught my attention, and I've been using it for over two years now.  I like that it's light, and if you look closely at the pic, it's dewy and smooth, which is good for skin with a tendency to get dry, and also if you like a bit of a luminous look.  Which I do.

I also like that once you've got your color picked out, you can coordinate with powder, concealer, etc.

Maybelline Blushed Nudes palette


You guys!  You can get up to 9 different combinations of eyeshadow with this palette--that's one for every day of the week and two evening looks for Friday and Saturday night.  (Let's just pretend I can still get a night out every once in a while.) 15 different looks!  I had to recount.  Dang, that's a fortnight!

There is a regular Nudes palette, but I feel like too much browns and purples give me a dirty-around-the-eyes look, maybe because of my olive complexion.  Anyway, I've not tested this theory, but I think this palette would look good on just about everyone.  The "nudes" part means they're subtle enough that they look great on various colorings and also that you don't have to worry about pinpoint precision when applying it.

If you try this one, let me know how you like it--or better yet, take a picture, and we can compare notes!

Covergirl Lipstick in Eternal


For something fun and bold that isn't red; don't get me wrong, red is fabulous, but even this pink-despising girl feels pretty in this pink-with-blue-undertones.

Ecotools


Affordable but quality makeup application and grooming tools that come in a pretty pouch.  They're pretty pretty themselves.  I do appreciate the "natural" wood look on tools.  It makes less, I don't know, tool-y.

MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study


Going on ten years use of this.  I've tried other colors, but I always come back to this one.  It's light and shimmery on it's own or builds beautiful color with other eyeshadows.  Hint: I also use it as a subtle highlighter.

Linking up with Jenna for Five Favorites!

Monday, 17 August 2015

What I Wore | Old Navy and Target

blouse // Xhiliration
white tank top // Xhiliration
gradient green skirt // Old Navy
stringy sandals // ??? Target

The infamous loyal sandals have since died.  Broke doing what they loved best, walking with my feet in them.  Let's all pause for a moment of silence.

Now that that's done, I didn't take any of ya'll's advice from this video:

video

But instead went ahead and bought some denim flats at Walmart that were on clearance and that rub the outside of my little toes into red welts.  I'm just telling myself they need breaking in. . .

Sunday, 16 August 2015

33/52

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  he's reaching for everything now and will soon be quite efficient at snatching things when I'm not looking.

Afon:  his broody model look melts everyone's hearts!


Friday, 14 August 2015

7 Affordable Ways to Make Your Week Beautiful

It's great that it's the weekend, but you know when you've had one of those weeks that just sort of make you disappointed that it's almost over and you haven't done what you wanted to, planned to, or simply found meaningful?

Don't despair!  I'm here with some juvenile inspiring ideas to make you sure you shake things up and get to live a little.

1.  Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.


{They don't have to be expensive.}  Just a $3.50 one from the grocery store will do.  Put it on your home altar or on the dresser in front of the mirror (like a diva's dressing room)!

2.  Mail something unusual to a friend.


Like a swim noodle--you can write the address directly on it in permanent marker.  (I have done this.  Unless the rules have changed, the U.S.P.S. will mail it.)  Or recycle a 2 liter soda bottle and fill it with sand and seashells, then stick the shipping label on the outside.  (Make sure to use packing tape to keep the lid on!)

3.  Make your bed first thing in the morning.


This really gets your morning jump-started: you've already accomplished something, your bedroom looks pretty, and you're less likely to want to climb back into bed if you went through all the effort to make it.  Even if you do take a nap later, it's nice to get a head-start on the day.

4.  Write a list of band names.


See my new favorite movie {The World's End starring Simon Pegg} for examples.  It's so much fun.  Do it with a friend or spouse; make a game out of it by saying you have to use objects in the room; or the name of a pet + a color; or an obscure language + your favorite fruit:
  • Window Mirror
  • Sadie's Red
  • Tunisian Pears


5.  Move the furniture around in one room.


Pick the room you live most in and just hit the refresh button.  It's like redecorating but absolutely free and with all your favorite stuff.  The change also gives you a creativity boost.

6.  Go bowling in prom dresses.


I've done this, too.  Get some girlfriends, put on your old prom dresses (if they still fit) or an evening gown or cocktail dress, get all fancied up, and then go bowling.  It's so much fun!  You can totally do it if you're a man, too!

7.  Make a collage or inspiration notebook.


Use up those old magazines and newspapers and make something creative; there doesn't have to be a theme, unless you want there to be!  Or decorate a notebook and use it as a "real" scrapbook, where you jot down memories, paste clippings and photos, record inspiring quotes and poems, an doodle.

Something like {Wreck This Journal} looks like tons of fun!

Have you ever done one or more of these things before?  Do you think you will in the future?  Have any suggestions for me?

Linking up with Kelly for {Seven Quick Takes}.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Have some flowers

and take care of yourself today, friend.  (Print it, pin it, share it.)

Monday, 10 August 2015

On Living Intentionally


(Note: This post was written in July, before coming to Wales.)

The knowledge of my limitations has been growing especially this past month.  With all the driving and sleeping--things necessary for the successful and healthy/happy functioning of myself and my children for the other parts of the day--I have less time than ever.  Therefore, I have had to become extremely intentional with how I spend that time.

Aside from sleeping, eating, bathing, driving, the chores of laundry, cooking, and dishes I try to tackle as they come; but they can be put off for a while.  This is carefully considered taking into account whether or not I have enough clothing, food, and clean cutlery to function for the rest of the day, and whether or not I will have enough of a time slot to accomplish them in the foreseeable future, before I do run out of them.


I'm doubling the use of my time by listening to audio books during the long drives.  And even during short ones.  I take naps whenever I can get them, drink a lot of Starbucks Refreshers, and run errands as they come up--like going to the bank or the grocery store.  Maybe a brief outing or a sweet treat for a feast day.

Skyping with my husband is important but not immediate.

The rest I have had to weigh in order of importance and value.  Value being the amount of joy, rest, or spiritual refreshment I get from the task or activity.  Because spiritual food is just as important as physical.


Right now, my intentional living must include the following: reading (or audio books), blogging (writing), playing with Roan (this can be in chunks scattered throughout the day), and bed-time routine/reading with Afon.  Those are the non-negotiables.  If I don't whip up a three-course dinner, answer my friend's email, or do my makeup one day, I'm okay with it.  Some things need to make way in order for the things of greater importance to get done.

This translates to the bigger picture, at least during my child-rearing years.  I know I won't be able to try, much less excel, at the {all of my interests}.  If I had to choose only a handful to focus on for the rest of my life, they would be these:

Writing  //  via blogging, poetry, journaling, or storytelling.  I would drop all other hobbies in order to preserve this first and last love.

Photography  //  it is important to me to capture the little daily wonders and the to document the blossoming of my children.  It is also greatly relaxing for me to sit back and edit/process photographs at the end of the day, or when I need a mental break.

Liturgical living  //  aside from prayer, Mass attendance, and the other obligations of the practicing Catholic, I strive to be aware of the liturgical calendar and incorporate the rhythms of the Church into daily life.

What about you?  Do you struggle to live intentionally?  What are your non-negotiable necessities?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

4 Random Welsh Facts

1 // There are two words for "milk" in Welsh.


Llaeth and llefrith.  And no, you're not pronouncing either one correctly.

2 // King Arthur was Welsh, not English.


Considering that he would have been a Romano-British tribesman fighting off the pagan Anglo-Saxon invaders, that would have been awkward.  Plus, England didn't exist yet.

3 // Wales is home to the longest place-name in the world, a town called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.


Translation: “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave.”  Very specific.

4 // The smallest house in Great Britain is in Conwy, Conwy County.


The last resident to live there was over six feet tall. Ya'll, I've been in there.  There's no way the man could have stood up in his own home.

Happy Sunday!

32/52


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  He loves the water, like a labrador retriever (or maybe just an Aspie kid).

Roan:  Roan looking perky at the seashore in his {Whole Parenting Goods} cap.

I can't even begin to understand my kinship with the sea.  I was born in Panama City, Florida, and we made yearly pilgrimages to Pensacola and the sweet, blue Gulf of Mexico.  But I've talked before about the mineral, primordial sea of the British isles and Ireland, and how it calls to me in an especial and mysterious way.  Then it catches me off guard, that they are in fact the same sea.

I'm full of thoughts like these of late, and {this film} has only fanned the flames of inspiration.  I am in love.  If you enjoyed {The Secret of Kells}, you will adore {The Song of the Sea}.  It's more child-freindly, as the threat of death is knocked down a few notches into a "mere" threat of being turned to stone.  It's very reminiscent of a Miyazaki film in that there is no real villain.  I honestly can't tell you which one I like better; they are both sublime.

These lines from Yeats make up the opening monologue of the film.
I'll have to write a full review later, probably for {Spinning Straw into Gold}, but I'll let you know when I do.

Friday, 7 August 2015

#normalizebreastfeeding

I've been saving up mentally for this post for a long time. And I'm still not ready.  But I never am.  So let's go before Breastfeeding Awareness Week is over.  Let's talk about #normalizebreastfeeding.

I know it weirds some people out; some good people.  I know they say, "Hey, you can breastfeed your child while covering yourself/remaining modest."  I get it.  I don't want you to be uncomfortable.  In fact, I'm sure it's a moral obligation for me to consider your discomfort.  And I do, really.


However.

This is one of a handful of issues that I will. not. budge on.  I need to know--need, the way I need regular meals and a safe place to sleep at night--that I have the right and the respect to breastfeed my child whenever and however I see fit.  Without scruples, without hesitation, without pausing to consider the environment or the time of day.  It is so, so important to me.  And it's important to my babies, too.

I'm a pretty traditional Catholic and an American and a conservative to boot.*  But this is where I stand in solidarity with all my "liberal" hippie sisters and insist that I and my child deserve to live in a world where feeding him--not in a flashy, look at me kind of way but in a way that is full of dignity--lacks even the tiniest whisper of shame.  And an insistence on covering, without recourse to the feelings of the mother, is a threat to this.  It broadcasts the message that breastfeeding is good BUT.


And no mother doing what is good and natural and God-ordained to nurture a child should ever hear the word BUT even implied when it comes to her mothering.  On such a precarious and important issue, even the smallest unnecessary caveat risks shattering the hard-won confidence of the modern mother.

Whether she nurses or not.  (Whether she cosleeps or not.  Whether she works or not.)  BUT is a sliver in the dam that can bring the whole thing crashing down.  Any kind of condition** placed on parenting is one too many; it is a symbolic stance saying that there is a right way and a wrong way.  

And, in the case of breastfeeding, there can be no wrong way to nurture an infant with his very mother's milk.




*  The more Catholic I become, the more I understand Catholicism cannot be confined into tiny boxes labeled "conservative" and "liberal."  That's how you know you're in the right Church.  ;)
**  I'm not talking about abuse and neglect here but the unsavory tendency to pass off parenting styles as absolute truths.
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