‘Tis the Season

The last 10 days have been nonstop. We don’t have a single thing on the calendar this weekend – not a party, or program, or practice – and I can’t wait to kick off Christmas vacation. I just have to power through this week and then I’m going to tackle that stack of library books, bake cookies, and play with my kids. 

I’m making more of an effort to pick up my camera. Big and little. I fell out of the habit, but I’m trying to change that. I want to keep capturing the little snippets. They’re reminders of warm fuzzies and adventures and simple daily joys. 

I’ve been doing a bit of reading. The one book I unabashedly recommend is “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes”. As a girl who has grown up on either side of Lake Michigan, and one who goes “home” to play in the sand and swim in the waters every year, this was a sad and hopeful read. I highly recommend it. Not just for those, like me, who have a personal love and connection to the lakes, but for anyone who thinks freshwater is important. (So that should be everyone.)

I’m almost finished with the second pair of socks. I didn’t have any time to knit on them last week and I’ll need to dedicate at least a couple of hours this week. They’ll be done in time but I won’t have a chance to get to Jesse’s. It’s a happy accident; this month’s yarn club was just delivered yesterday and it’s the most beautiful brown. They’ll make a gorgeous pair of socks so I’ll wrap up the yarn with a promise that they’ll be the first pair finished in 2019. 

My Facebook and Instagram hiatus has been so good for my soul. I’m torn on returning to instagram (pretty pictures!!) but I’m pretty sure it will be awhile before I return to Facebook. It’s so much NOISE. I think humanity would be better off if we’d all just log off, spend a little more time chatting with our neighbors in REAL LIFE about the things that matter to us and why they matter to us. As my grandma says, maybe we’re not supposed to know about all the hurt going on in the whole wide world and instead fix what we can in our corner of it. It might be oversimplified wisdom for a knotty issue, but being someone that cries over people I don’t know and desires to fix things beyond my ability to fix, it’s wisdom I need.

On a less serious note, if you’re someone who likes Sudoku (or puzzles of any sort) or if you need a last minute Christmas present for someone who fits that description, the game above is called Colorku and I love it. It’s pretty enough that we have it left out on the coffee table though sometimes Violet likes to be sneaky when I leave it unattended and she moves the balls around so I can’t solve it!! 

Finally, that picture of Abram in front of the microphone? It might be one of my favorites from all year. (This is where I skip the humble and straight up brag.) If you know my shy boy, you know standing in front of a church full of grown ups and singing is…something. But oh did he ever want that solo! And when the time came, he got up there and his voice was clear and calm and so sweet. I cried. I mean, of course, I did. And those chicklet teeth. They just kill me. 

I think it’s probably unrealistic to expect I’ll be back before the new year, so I wish you all very happy holiday season. I hope you’ll drop me a line a let me know what you are up to these days – reading, thinking, watching, cooking. And whatever your -ing happens to be, I hope the long nights and dark days are filled with love, hope, mercy, and peace. 

Dear Internet,

Hi there. Let’s just jump in and look past the fact I didn’t manage to write once in the month of November.

I knit a pair of socks. I’m half way through another pair. And then I have one more pair to finish before Christmas. I’ve done nothing in the way of embroidery. I am not making anything handmade for anyone this year except for Violet, Abram, and Jesse (the aforementioned socks). I thought I would feel bad about this. I do not. I’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek while I knit.

I’m almost completely done with Christmas shopping but I still have some decorating to do. (Since the remodel, I’m noticing fewer flat surfaces to put things!!) I’m also on the hunt for holiday entertaining recipes because I’m the one hosting this year. I know I’ll be an absolute basket case the day before and the day of, BUT I love the idea of having everyone together and playing games and laughing and making all kinds of tasty treats!

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I made this lemon-ginger elixir late last week and I’m pretty sure it will be on constant rotation over the winter. Violet had her fall concert for chorus and I made these popcorn balls as a treat for the kids afterward, replacing the peanuts with M&M’s (transfer the mix from the pan to a bowl before adding them in so they don’t get melty). Thanksgiving consisted of Ina Garten’s turkey recipe, a classic green bean casserole, and my favorite dressing. It was delicious. I also made these brownies over that weekend and they were good, but not *the* brownie. Oh, and before I forget: make this soup. Jesse and I loved it. Kids weren’t crazy about it. But they aren’t loving anything that isn’t a chicken nugget these days. Mission #1 for 2019 is to get us ALL back into the habit of making and eating more food (ahem, vegetables) at home. I also want to try my hand at making bread. I don’t know why it’s so intimidating but I’ve been saying for a few months that I want to try my hand at it, but not actually trying my hand at it.

Mission #2 (which I’ve been incorporating already) is decreased screen time. For everyone. I deleted instagram off my phone, deactivated my Facebook account, hid the Xbox and the iPads, and am working on finding other ways to keep everyone busy. I miss the days of crafting and coloring and cooking and game playing, so I’m making the adjustments. It’s been rocky. We’ve had some tantrums (and not just by the kids) but I think it’s better for all of us. (It’s certainly better for my to-do list.) Once upon a time, I didn’t even own a television. It’s amazing (disgusting) how many screens I have in my house now.

Fewer screen hours has resulted in more reading hours. Abram signed up for the annual Battle of the Books. He’s finished Ruby Holler, is currently reading Caddie Woodlawn, and The Tale of Despereaux is next up. Despite having plenty of reading to do for school, he’s still asking me to read Chomp to him in the evenings, so I’m pretty thrilled about that. As for me, most of the reading I’ve been doing is light. I finished The Summer Wives (3 stars), Nine Perfect Strangers (3 stars), The Proposal (2 stars), Hillbilly Elegy (3.7 stars), and The Dinner List (2 stars). I’m currently slow reading a book of letters by George H.W. Bush (reading a few letters, putting it down, reading a few more) and The Children of Blood and Bone (I picked it up for Violet but it’s lower on her list right now. It’s not my genre, and it’s quite dark, but I wanted to read it. I’m about halfway through and I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve finished.)

So that’s me. It’s full and boring and I’m a bit over winter considering it started the first week in November (and I’m a person who LIKES winter) but we’re settling in to the season. We had a “good snow” snowfall over the weekend and the kids spent the weekend with my mom playing in that and making homemade caramels (P.S. They’re in my fridge right now. And they’re dangerous) while Jesse and I finished almost all of the shopping (now for the wrapping!!). How are you? What are you reading, making, watching, listening to? Hope that you and yours are well!!!


A Quick Note

I know it’s not Tuesday, but I have a few minutes, so I thought I’d sit down and say hello. It’s already the end of October and I’m facing down Thanksgiving and then Christmas shopping and wondering where 2018 went. It’s been a hard year. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve been angry a lot. I think if you pay attention and are a thoughtful, compassionate person, you’ve probably had hard times this year too. I’m here with you. It’s hard not to become bitter. I’m refusing to become bitter (I don’t blame you if you are bitter. I just can’t be that right now.) so I’m working hard on being someone that 9 and 93 year old Kate is/will be proud of. It’s been work. Good. Hard. Work.

On a lighter note:

My sister and I went to Michigan to visit our grandma and our dad. Our uncle brought out his guitar. There was beer drinking and story telling. Eyes may have welled up a bit. Voices may have been raised once or twice. My very citified car went two-tracking because it was the best way to get from here to there (though after getting “not real lost”, it turned out it maybe wasn’t). I mentioned a desire for some taxidermy and arrived the next morning to find a mounted fox waiting for me at one end of our grandma’s driveway and a good story at the other end. Everyone got a kick out of it. It was a lovely visit and I’m glad for it. We took the ferry to Ludington to get there and to get back we decided to drive around through the UP. The grates on the bridge always give me the heebs but being close to the edge is worse. There was snow on the way home. Winter isn’t here yet, but it’s given us warning.

I deactivated social media for a bit this month while working on a project that needed my full attention. Within minutes of signing back on, I noticed this feeling creep over me that I hadn’t even known was gone until it returned. And it felt…icky. I feel like such a drama queen but the more I take these breaks, the more I realize I’m the happiest when I’m not following along on instagram or facebook. I’m not quite ready to deactivate again, but I’ve been thinking about it.

I’m working on a sock. I think I might be able to knit this one (and hopefully it’s mate) without giving up. While knitting, I’ve been watching Younger or Parks and Recreation. I’m not watching much, but I’m finding I like it lighthearted and not too real. Days where I’m happiest, thought, I avoid it completely.

I’ve read two books. One, by Kate Morton, titled “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” is the perfect not-scary ghost story for October. The other, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, is sad and beautiful and full.

And that’s me. It’s late October. I can feel myself cozying up. Pajamas get put on early because the sky is dark early. Soups and chilis and hearty comfort foods make up the meal plans.

How are you? What are you thinking about? Working on? Reading, watching, cooking? I hope you are well.

Well, hello.

The mornings are early and only one of the four of us enjoys them. We shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. Make sure backpacks are loaded with homework, gym clothes, snacks. Violet leaves earliest of all of us. Her first class starts at 7:30, but she’s out the door most days by 7:00 (don’t get me started) because she likes to be there early.  Jesse and I drink coffee while Abram plays. We run down the day’s schedule events – practices, religious education, random checklists of household things and what’s for dinner. When he heads out for the day, Abram and I settle in to read a chapter or two. We’re almost finished reading “Hoot”. I know I’ve mentioned before I hate reading chapter books aloud. It’s slow and clunky and usually that makes me restless and irritable, but my nine year old doesn’t like reading chapter books at all (for the same reasons I don’t like reading them aloud) but he does like having someone read to him, so…here we are. We have two chapters remaining. I don’t know what we’ll read next. I drop him off at school. Run errands. Do a little “work”.

I recently finished “A Place for Us”. It was recommended by Sarah Jessica Parker on instagram. Her recommendation was backed up by the recommendation of a friend who I trust with those kind of recommendations. It may have been the best book I’ve read all year and I’ve read some good ones this year. It was a slow start. I fell asleep while reading the first few chapters but I kept at it and it was very worth it. I also finished “One of Us is Lying” which is a YA book that Violet picked up at the library and then decided was too grown up for her after the first chapter (it was). It was a good book. Predictable, but I stayed up until 1:30AM to prove that it was predictable and didn’t regret it.

I haven’t been knitting or watching much. Occasionally, I sit down to an episode or two of Parks and Recreation. Sometimes, The West Wing. I never watched either of them when they were on, but I enjoy them.  I’ve knit two socks almost to completion only to rip them out and now I’m just not feeling the knitting. I hope I’ll come back to it. I’m worried I’ve burnt out on it. I’ve worked a little on the Washington D.C. embroidery, but only here and there. Early mornings have lead to early bedtimes and early bedtimes haven’t been conducive to getting much crafting done. I always imagine I’ll do things during the day while the kids are school and I do…I do dishes, laundry, visit with friends, but I don’t seem to making time for the fun stuff.

I know I haven’t written since August. It’s been a pleasant blur of after school activities, friends, and family. I’m…happy. I’m angry and indignant and sad and scared too. My heart and head are big enough to hold all those things at once and learning that has lead to peace. And I’ve needed peace. I think we all could use peace.

It’s definitely October where we are and I don’t know if it’s the gray, rainy, cold, but I find myself doing a lot of metaphorical pruning and planting. I’ve done some of the literal variety as well. The trees are changing and the days feel so short. I pulled up my lamp out from the basement and bought myself a bottle of vitamin D. I’m ready for fires and blankets and sweaters and snuggles but getting out of bed is getting harder and while I believe in allowing yourself seasons, I also know that I want to send my kiddo off with a hug and smile even if she does leave the house at an ungodly hour (seriously, it’s not even fully daylight!!)

So that’s me. How about you? What have you been reading, watching, doing, thinking about lately?