Some days I’m not up for a huge lunch, but still want to nourish myself instead of filling up on, oh, chips and salsa.
Here is what I tossed together today:
Brown rice cooked with a bit of salt and olive oil (when I have bone broth I often use it as the cooking liquid). I’ve used this recipe’s technique for cooking brown rice (just follow the steps in the first paragraph) for years and it comes out perfect every time.
An over easy egg.
Spinach pesto (spinach + a few snap peas + olive oil + lemon juice + Parmesan cheese + pecans + salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and adjust seasonings to your taste).
This year I’ve taken my reading obsession public and joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s annual Reading Challenge. And because I’m a crazy-book-obsessed-aholic, of course I decided to do both lists: Reading for Fun and Reading for Growth. It’s the first time I’ve ever systematically thought through what I will read throughout a year. But I have a secret weapon: instead of using the list to determine what books I’ll read, I first went to the books I have on my For Later ‘shelf’ on my library’s website and reverse engineered them to fit all the categories in the Challenge. Sneaky? Perhaps. Gets me through my To-Be-Read list? Absolutely. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
I’ll share more about my complete selections for the Reading Challenge in another post (as well as how I’ve finally taken the Bullet Journal plunge!) but for now, here is what I’ve been reading to kick off 2017.
I don’t usually read YA novels but I picked up this book without knowing that it fell in that category (it’s one of my favorite generes, after all). Of course, I quickly realized what I was reading thanks to the writing style and the giant Newberry Award medal on the front cover (ha!). The story kept my attention but it had slightly too much implausibility for me to truly give myself over to it. For a young reader wanting to learn about World War 2, this book would be a great place to start.
I was first introduced to Meissner’s work through this other book which I really enjoyed, so when I saw the Challenge category of “three books by the same author” I thought she would be a good candidate for that slot. This book won all sorts of awards and it was a quick read with some deeper themes. It did seem, at time, like the author tried a bit too hard to write beyond light fiction and make the book be more meaningful. I did like reading about a time and place in history that I haven’t spent much time exploring.
This month I’m helping lead a fitness challenge for our organization and one of the requirements is to read a book about nutrition, exercise, accountability, or community (four factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle). I choose QBQ! because I had started reading it last year and didn’t finish and because it’s super short (115 pages!). Don’t be fooled by the brevity of the book – it addresses personal accountability head on and doesn’t leave much room to hide. I love that it presents a simple formula to practice personal accountability through the questions we ask ourselves. Simple, short, but powerful.
This book is one of Morton’s first works and it shows. The story kept me engaged but seemed to drag on at times. It reminded me of all those nightly news shows that take five minutes’ worth of information and drag it out to fill a 45 minute time slot. I like how each chapter switches points of view and places in history (Beatriz Williams uses the same technique and I’m a big fan of her books) and I figured out the signature “twist” earlier than I have in her other books. At 552 pages it’s a commitment but it reads quickly thanks to a fast-paced story that keeps you wanting more.
Heartbreaking. Triumphant. Tragic. Victorious. All those words and more. I’ve read so many books about World War 2, both fiction and non-fiction, but I never fail to be impacted by reading another person’s account of their struggle to survive (or to save others) during those awful years. Set in Poland during the height of the Nazi Occupation, Mazzeo tells the impossible true story of one woman who helped save over 2,500 children from the Jewish ghetto. Unbelievably believable. Read it.
This book was one of my “bonus picks” from my interview on What Should I Read Next. I finagled as many extra recommendations out of Anne as I could. 🙂 Since one of my “Three Books You Love” was about the Columbine tragedy, it’s no wonder I resonated with this book as soon as she mentioned it on the podcast. I was completely unprepared, however, for what this book really held. Told in first person, this memoir/tell-all//rallying cry can basically be summed up in two questions: “How did this happen?” and “How did I not know this was going to happen?” Klebold lays herself bare as she examines the days leading up to the tragedy, her son’s role in the shooting, his suicide, and the aftermath that haunts her still to this day. She has become an advocate for mental health and writes boldly about the need for education and awareness. Highly, highly recommended.
Completely outside my reading “box,” this book was pleasantly enjoyable to read. It’s written as a series of interviews, diary entries, and conversations, all centered around the discovery of enormous, metallic, robotic body parts of some sort of being that are hidden all over Earth. I don’t usually like epistolary books but the story was actually enhanced by this writing style as it helped me stay detached as a reader, much like the detachment between the robot and the scientist who were working to discover its purpose. I enjoyed it more than I thought it would, but the last chapter? Grr. I immediately went to Google and searched “What happens in the last chapter of Sleeping Giants?” To say it’s a cliffhanger would be a gross understatement. Good move on the part of the author. Awful news for the reader….but apparently there’s a sequel so all hope is not lost.
Every once and awhile I’ll give one of these types of books a try – Christian, self-help, spiritual memoir. As with most books that fall in this category, the first third has some great insights, the second third starts waning, and by the final pages I’m just wanting to be done already. I did like some of Caine’s comments about the power of shame and how it is at the root of so much pain and rejection in our lives. More than anything, though, reading this book made me want to revisit Brené Brown’s works and read the works of a true expert on this topic.
How about you? What books have you been reading lately? Do you have any plans for your 2017 reading journey?
Our little ones have been fighting a cough and cold this week. Yesterday Madison woke up super early crying about ear pain. She didn’t relent for about three hours, yelling, “It HURTS!” while adamantly refusing anything I tried to do to help her. Finally, after essential oils, heat compresses, hydrogen peroxide, and Tylenol, she settled down and dozed for about 10 minutes on the couch. Miraculously, she woke up happy and pain-free. Hallelujah! Even more miraculously, she actually fell asleep during our afternoon quiet time (which hasn’t happened in close to two years) and slept for almost an hour and a half, snuggled next to me.
It’s hard for me to see my kids sick. Not only because they are in pain or miserable, but because I’ve come to believe the lie that their physical wellness is directly connected to how well I care for them. If they are sick then I did something wrong. We take a slightly alternative approach to wellness and health care in our family (not a lot of doctor visits or prescriptions…using a lot of oils and other natural approaches) and I harbor a hidden fear of being ‘found out’ that blazes to the surface whenever my kids don’t feel well. That someone will point a finger and accuse me and I’ll be helpless and defenseless. As if I can control how their body responds to every germ or virus that may pass their way? I know where the root of that fear comes from(I haven’t written much about my family’s story lately, but there were strong themes of accusation and helplessness woven all throughout) and as I stood in the shower yesterday I decided to confront it head on.
My kids are not sick because I didn’t something wrong.
They are being cared for because I love them.
I’m not in control of their physical wellness, but I can choose how I respond to them when they are feeling icky. My response to their pain reveals the depth of my love for them.
I hear them hacking and coughing as they wake up this morning. It’ll be another day of teas, oils, and restful play. I set my intention to care for them.
Here are some thoughts I had during my prenatal care with Angelica, the midwife who attended our homebirth in Tijuana in November 2014. These excerpts are from an email conversation with a phenomenal woman who has dedicated her life to humanized birthing in Mexico. She has (and continues to be) a pillar of support and source of knowledge for the birthing community in Mexico and beyond. Although we have never met in person, I consider her a dear friend and close confident with all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how my partnership with Angelica Granada is going during this pregnancy. We ‘officially’ switched our care to her about two and a half months ago, and since have had two home visits with one coming up next week (we also met with her twice before that to get to know her and her approaches to care). We have decided to not see an OBGYN concurrently with her care (unless, of course, something occurs during the pregnancy that warrants their care). I am intensely appreciating her approach to prenatal care – it’s very hands-off, trusting of the mother and baby, yet at the same time with attention to details.
The home visits (which I LOVE that she offers) have consisted of a conversations about diet, exercise, how I feel, how the baby is moving/growing, and then blood pressure, measurements, listening to me and the baby, and taking a few notes. Then we usually start discussing a question or topic that I have in mind and go on from there. No lab work, blood draws, weigh-ins, or excessive paperwork to fill out. Actually, I haven’t filled out ANY paperwork with her yet, except for writing my name in her spiral notebook where she keeps her client notes. She has a few methods/practices that I’m not completely in agreement with, but willing to let those go for now and deal with them when/if they arise
In comparison to what she DOES offer, DOES practice, and DOES believe, those few points are quite minimal to me. I still plan on having something in writing about our desires before, during, and after labor so we can agree on and refer to it. In describing her training and expertise, I would say she is much more a traditional midwife than a modern midwife – traditional in the sense that she is trained/skilled/knowledgable, but still influenced by the current medical approach to childbirth and pregnancy that remains here in Mexico. Does that make sense? I’ve found that doing supplemental research on my own in regards to diet, care, preparation, etc, has been much more helpful than simply just asking her ‘What should I do for…’
It’s almost painful for me to think of the situation that a midwife like Angelica finds herself in – even if she WANTS to expand her knowledge, WANTS to access the latest evidence-based findings, WANTS to update herself with approaches or practices or techniques…where does she turn? To whom can she go? And even if there is someone/somewhere, how would she even know it was available or know how to access it? And would it even be in a language she can comprehend? Not speaking against her competency or intelligence as an individual in any way, but just reflecting on what I’ve observed in the medical community since living here for the past 12 years.
Here are the things that have made my heart sing with joy (and relief!) as our relationship has progressed:
she is totally okay with no internal exams
anyone can be at the birth. the birth can be AT HOME (a setting in which she has practiced many times)!!!!
she has some knowledge of herbs, teas, etc for the pregnancy and labor
no episiotomies, but she can do sutures if needed after the birth
if i want, she is fine with leaving the placenta with us
i can birth and labor in any position
i can eat and drink during labor
after the baby is born, s/he goes straight to the mom to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible to help stop the flow of blood, contract the uterus, and promote attachment and bonding
completely promotes and supports breastfeeding
placenta is birthed on it’s own time (no traction or pulling)
so far, she hasn’t mentioned a total time limit for labor (unlike the dr with my previous pregnancy here who mentioned freidman’s curve as his point of measurement for a successful labor)
As I read that list I think, ‘Well, DUH!’ But then I have to chuckle and smile and shake my head in gratitude that I will be ‘allowed’ to birth this child as I was created to do.
It wasn’t long before we met and passed all three due dates we had for this pregnancy – one from the doctor, one from the ultrasound, and one from Angelica. They all were at the end of October, but from the moment we found out we were pregnant I had a sense that it would be a November baby. Maybe I convinced myself to wait? Maybe she needed those few extra days inside me to gear up for her big day? I’ll never know why but I do remember being at peace with whenever labor decided to start.
Our first day back at homeschool after the Christmas and New Year’s break. Madison had a cough so she stayed home from preschool (which also started back up today). Leah went to campus with Scott around 8:30 AM so she could attend her toddler’s class. We settled into school about an hour ahead of schedule which meant Hunter did a ton of school work today. It also gave me a glimpse of what homeschooling two kids could be like if we decide to go that route when Madison graduates preschool.
Along with his core curriculum (reading, phonics, math, Bible, history, world studies), Hunter chose to study birds of prey a few weeks ago for his current lapbook. Today’s topic was skeletons. Quite fascinating, if a bit morbid. 🙂 This final picture makes my heart sing…when they like each other, they really like each other.
We looked at our summer calendar at the beginning of 2016 and cringed. Packed to the brim, it seemed like those months would fly by in a blur. What did we decide to do in the midst of those crazy, busy, three months? Take a trip to Washington to see family and friends, of course! And not just any trip, but a three-week road trip that started and finished with 25-hour drives to our destination. Did we already mention ‘crazy’? Yup.
Seemingly endless days with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins stretched out into the late sunset, pushing bedtime further and further back each night. The county fair. S’mores. Bounce houses and water slides. Baseball games. BBQs. Swimming. Blackberry picking. Sleepovers. Food, food, and more food. We soaked in these quintessential, americana-laden moments under the soft summer sun.
It was the best three weeks we’ve spent in Washington in a long time. It was also the most physically painful three weeks I’ve had in recent memory. Starting with a wicked sore throat that hit me around midnight on our inaugural night of driving, to the massive cold sores that erupted around my mouth, not to mention the strange prickly, red rash I was recovering from that attached my neck the week before, it all culminated in waking up one morning with a stabbing, stiff pain in the left side of my neck and shoulder. No stranger to knots in my back, I went about my normal routine of massage and stretching, spending good portions of that day working out the kinks (literally). After a pre-bed session with a tennis ball and a wall (it works -try it!), I climbed into bed hoping for a great night’s sleep and a sore-but-loose back the next morning. What I got instead was an immediate lock-up of the muscles on that side of my neck and shoulder, and throbbing pain radiating from my neck, down the side of my scapula and out towards my elbow. Sleep? What sleep? More like measured breathing and deep sighs reminiscent of childbirth.
I tried icing it. I tried stretching it. I tried heat, rest, laying down, standing up. I tried it all. After about two days I couldn’t take it any more and searched out a massage therapist…and then a chiropractor…and then another visit to the chiropractor. The pain would not go away.
Sleep was nearly impossible. I woke up more than I slept. One night I lay in bed, trying to move as little as possible, breathing deeply and trying to manage the pain. I turned my thoughts heavenward and asked, “Okay God. I give up. What can you teach me through this?” Almost immediately, an image flashed in my mind. It looked something like this:
I turned my thoughts back into a prayer and asked, “What does that mean?” As soon as the sentence finished forming in my mind, a story began to unfold.
I am in a big room. Tall ceilings, lots of space. A bank of light switches in one corner. There are lights everywhere but only a few are turned on. This room represents God’s character. The absolute fullness of who He is. Every aspect of His being. The lights that are turned on symbolize my knowledge of who God is. God is loving. God is merciful. God is forgiving. Those familiar characteristics that I easily identify and understand. But what about the lights that were turned off? And the bank of light switches? Here is where the pin dropped for me.
Pain and suffering can illuminate an aspect of God’s character that I might have never noticed before.
Does my situation change who God is? Of course not. It does provide an opportunity for me to flip a switch, thus pouring light where shadows had previously existed. His character is made known to me in new ways. He becomes my healer, my redeemer, my strong tower, my warrior, my jealous lover. He has always been and always will be, but I never needed to know until now.
In my mind’s eye I watched as the light switches were turned on one by one and the room began to glow brighter than ever before. The questions poured through my mind. How many switches do I ignore, content to know God in the measurable, limited ways I’ve always known Him? How often do I run from challenges because I value my comfort more than the expansive illumination of an infinite God? Will the pain ever be so great that I slam the lights off and leave the room?
Eventually, my shoulder and neck healed. It took weeks of cautious movements, slowly building strength, for everything to begin to feel normal again. While I am so thankful to move without pain, I often think back on those three weeks. Deep gratitude. Deep revelation. The lights are on.