Zatera Ul

Room to breathe

Filed under: Christianity, General, Politics, Projects, The Serendipitous Sabbatical — July 8, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

Fantastic post from Claire Wolfe on saying No:

Unfortunately, we “can’t say no” people usually end up somewhere in the bottom-middle or middle-bottom of whatever field we’re in. Because we don’t allow ourselves the ego-time to dream. To dream, dive fully into things, and work our buns off on our own priorities.

Again, it’s our own doing when we don’t reserve self-time. But how dare all those people keep trying to pull us off our path? To pull us past our very own (repeated) declarations of NO so we can serve their priorities? Why don’t they hear us the first time? Or the second? Or the third? Why do they put us in the position where we’re the bad guys if we don’t go along — again — with what they want?

Oh, but the needs are urgent! The causes profound! (And they often really are; charity being the natural profession for this sort of importuning.) You’re the only one who can do it! Your talents are so vital! And after all, “It’s just this one time …”

But the implication — and this is really weird when you think about it — the implication is that you’re so good (or so irreplaceable or so uniquely talented or such an excellent organizer or such a good guy) that YOU DON’T COUNT.

Then there is this little something else I read this morning (by Randy Alcorn):

We need to neglect doing the things that countless people want us to do, so that we will be available to do what God wants.

And sometimes He speaks in a still small voice, while people speak in a big LOUD voice. We have to make sure we’re listening. To do that, we need to put our ear to His Word and pray and seek His face.

I want to be available to listen to God and follow Him when He gives me those totally unexpected divine appointments.

But if I’m booked so tight there’s no room in my schedule for unanticipated God moments, I’ll miss them, and thereby miss some of life’s greatest joys and opportunities and occasions for gratitude.

The pile of poisonesses

Filed under: Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects — July 4, 2014 @ 8:18 am

That is what StrongBoy calls the place out behind the garage where I’ve been putting all the mushrooms from the yard. TBM is at just the right age for sampling random delicacies found on the ground, and this has been an outstanding year for mushrooms, so I’ve been picking a pound or two or more of them every day. The last two days I haven’t found any, and I hope they are done for the year!

I finished up a handsewing project, and it turned out well. I also did a porch makeover; somehow it keeps turning into a big closet with windows.

There was a family of six bunnies in the yard this morning. Not in the garden, fortunately for them.

Weeding, sewing, reading, and music

Filed under: Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects — June 9, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

Our landlords, when they lived here, put in a large flower garden in the Lots of Mulch style (wood chip mulch). For several years, the mulch worked well to keep the weeds down, but now it is starting to rot down and actually become compost for the weeds. So weeding has become a bit of a chore. This year, I have started just raking the mulch off the garden, section by section, attacking and laying waste to the weeds in the layer they are sprouting in, and then putting the top layer of mulch back. This is a lot faster and easier than picking only the surface weeds.

My mother-in-law gave me some nice linen fabric. I measured myself and drew up a pattern, and now I am sewing pants by hand. It is very pleasant to sit out in the back yard and sew. Hand sewing is also more tolerant of interruptions than machine sewing is.

We also have been going to the Christian Resource Center homeschool library. It is a small, private Christian library with a good collection. I especially like that it is a library which displays as many actual physical books as possible in their limited space. Our public libraries have pathetically sparse bookshelves for their square footage, and too many computers, and we have not had an easy time dragging our children away from the computers to pay attention to the books.

Our neighbor has been downsizing, and gave us his digital piano. Our peninsula counter in the kitchen is the only place where it fits well, but it is nice to be able to wander over and play a little whenever the notion strikes.

I am the last person on Earth who should be surprised about this

Filed under: Foofy, General, Parenthood, The Serendipitous Sabbatical — May 20, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

Behold: the sabbatical from school.

Still working through the blogging backlog

Filed under: Christianity, Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects, Science, The Naturally Frugal Baby — May 14, 2014 @ 10:38 am

As I recently told MFH, “The only reason the revolution hasn’t started yet is that everyone is too busy preparing for the coming collapse.”

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I had a good Mother’s Day. I noticed that my leather-bound journal now has a splatter of glitter paint across the cover; sparkles aren’t usually my style, but I appreciate them.

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We have a book called The Lemming Conspiracy: How to Redirect Your Life from Stress to Balance. It is a typical self-help book, but in it I found something useful; four approaches toward work and problem-solving:

Managing the details
Managing the big picture
Brainstorming (generating new ideas)
Experience (re-using old ideas)

The idea being that even if someone isn’t talented in any of the first three methods, they can still get ahead if they make good use of the fourth; when all else fails, fall back on experience. I am actually not at all good at brainstorming, except by just abstractly flipping through various combinations of possibilities.

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I also read recently some exhortations toward a very regularized physical routine of eating and sleeping and so on. I immediately thought of a counter-example: Jesus forgoing sleep to have time for prayer. Babies, too, have reasons why they might not sleep on schedule: gas, disruption of the regular routine (church is a major culprit here), illness, exciting new developmental stages, teething, neighborhood noise. It would be ideal if conditions were ideal, but they’re not. So some flexibility is necessary.

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The most powerful thing that I’ve personally seen God do: He has on two occasions given me a mental block to keep me from dwelling on some unhelpful thoughts; one temporary, and the other more permanent. In both cases, I could/can think about the fact that I could not/cannot think about those things, but only for a moment, and then my mind automatically changes the subject. It is very strange, but true.

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Another thing I told MFH: I’m not good at managing abundance. Scarcity I understand, and how to leverage limited resources, but I am at a loss when the barns are full to bursting.

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Blogger Seth Roberts recently died; the third blogger that I followed closely to have died-after Cathy Seipp and Barbara Curtis.

Where in the world

Filed under: Christianity, Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects — May 8, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

Mostly, I’ve just been at home. Recent projects:

Rebuilding muscle strength as the tendonitis slowly recedes.

Church work that is giving my INTJ brain a lot to think about.

Embroidering a skirt with one of my stencil designs. Embroidery makes a big impact, for not very much in time and materials.

Measuring the skirts I have to try to determine my “ideal” skirt length. (It varies somewhat by the cut of the skirt and the drape of the fabric.)

Spring yard work–MFH plants and manages the vegetable garden, and I do almost everything else.

Diet changes: I feel better when I avoid unfermented dairy products and also gluten.

Assimilating some handed-down household treasures from MFH’s mom.

Homeschool: I keep a brief log of homeschool activities, and I can see that we have covered an awful lot in the past weeks, even under an unschooling model.

Nothing: Playing a lot of my favorite online game, just as a break from constant activity.

Backlog

Filed under: Christianity, Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects — April 15, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

A pile of things that I’ve wanted to blog about:

I used some of my Christmas money to buy a print of one Van Gogh’s Trees and Undergrowth paintings from 1887. We don’t have much art on our walls yet; it’s our most neglected area of decorating. Over time, I am appreciating the print more and more. It looks better in lower light; it was painted before electric lighting was invented. Van Gogh managed to capture all of the different colors and textures with just blocky brushstrokes.

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I’ve been very busy recently, but one thing I’ve been wanting to do is to create a few stencil designs. Like many people, I “can’t draw”, so it was hard to get started. If it’s any help, this is what I did: I picked a genre (flowers and foliage). With a marker on plain paper, I drew some petal, leaf, and stem outlines. I picked the ones that looked best, cut them out, and then used them as templates to trace more iterations. After playing around a little, I came to a more specific theme (flowers and foliage in the wind), and started assembling new shapes, and then doing some freehand drawing. At the end, I had a pile of designs that are much better than I thought I could draw.

As a graduate student, I once read through a book on scientific illustration, so I know that “real” artists usually don’t dash off a finished picture on the first sitting. A lot of working sketches and studies and practice comes first.

Another technique I use when I have trouble getting started drawing is pointillism: I can draw a dot in a fairly precise location, and then I can tell where the next dot should go.

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I recently read Tapestry, by Edith Schaeffer, a biography of her and her husband Francis. I don’t always enjoy reading biography or history, but it was a lively book. I think the following quote came from there:

Evangelism that does not lead to purity of life, and purity of doctrine, is just as faulty and incomplete as an orthodoxy which does not lead to a concern for, and communication with, the lost.

– Francis Schaeffer

I’m inclined now to view a few other Christian controversies in the same way: both sides are partially right, but also incomplete.

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I looked at some of the Common Core standards. The ones that seem most puzzling to parents are about the mathematical method of decomposing numbers before doing operations on them. I actually use this technique a lot, but it’s just a trick that I use for my own convenience, and it rests on a solid foundation of good old-fashioned arithmetic, supplemented by a sort of intuition based on long experience. I’m not convinced that it is a very easy or useful technique to teach to younger elementary students.

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We just started our spring homeschool term, which is marked by the last of the snow melting, and which includes going nearly TV-free.

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There are a number of bloggers in my past and present church congregations, so I thought I’d make a list; these are just the ones that I know of:

Kathy
Nikki
Naomi
Amber
Bob
More Bob
And, of course, John.

Setting the foundation into place

Filed under: Christianity, General, Pregnancy — April 1, 2014 @ 4:32 pm

I don’t get out to sales very often these days, but a while back I went to an estate sale, with a short “shopping list” of useful items I was looking for (which are more likely to be found at estate sales than regular yard sales). But at this sale, 95% of the items for sale were Trademarked Collectibles, of various flavors. Room after room after room of them. This couple had spent decades buying one little over-priced “limited edition” piece after another to build multiple collections. Now they had to let it all go, their children certainly didn’t want any of it, and it didn’t look like very many other people did, either.

Then today I stumbled on these posts, in particular this one:

As Boomers supplemented or replaced evangelism with marketing, we grew organizations that were marked by responsiveness to the felt needs of our target market. This worked as long as the target market was us.

My generation has a lot of work ahead of it. Shovel work, to start with, to get down through the crap back to the Cornerstone, Jesus. Taking Titus 2 seriously, for another (and it doesn’t require a program or a titled position in the church).

And then there’s March

Filed under: Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects, The Naturally Frugal Baby — March 23, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

This month started off with family stomach flu fun, and tendonitis, the latter of which I am still dealing with–which limits my standing or walking, but I have to say that it’s good to have minions. Even StrongBoy has been doing a lot of helpful fetching and table-clearing and dishwasher-unloading. A tip I picked up from older mothers: Give the task to the youngest child that can do it.

I’ve been reading a lot of Catherine Marshall, and doing some spring cleaning of the soul, but there’s so much meat in her stuff that it’s taking me a while to chew through it all.

I sorted the baby clothes–we used to have a large dresser with enough drawers to basically keep one size in each drawer, but we left it behind in the move. Even then, the clothes tended to get mixed up, because some things were outgrown more quickly than others. My new system is to pick a couple of memorable garments in each size, and to stuff the rest of the clothes of that size into them.

I found some stained and worn baby clothes to cull out, and since I wanted to try making a hexagonal quilt, I chose some of them for that. The paper piecing method, when you hold the right sides of two hexagons together to hand-sew a seam, does have the virtue of making your stitches seem much smaller and more even than they actually are.

Goodbye February

Filed under: Foofy, General, Parenthood, Projects — March 1, 2014 @ 9:57 am

February is my least favorite month of the year, even worse than August. I’m very happy to see this last one over and done: cabin fever, medical bills, some seasonal depression, social drama that unearthed a variety of older hurts, and on top of that all the fun of trying to get a baby to nap in a small house with three other active children.

But the couch is more or less done. I still need to find a cushion for it, right now we are making do with the old couch cushions. I am waiting for warmer weather and better ventilation before I apply any finish to it.

I took the couch fabric and made a slipcover for the chair, which was a one-day project because I didn’t disassemble the fiddly parts on the arms when I took the fabric off the couch. That should carry us through the last of the potty training, and then I’ll probably reupholster it.

The tax preparation is coming along well, although I’m waiting on MFH for a few numbers.

TLG has been painstakingly cutting pictures out of his workbooks to play with. OLC has been drawing graphs to show her progress toward her savings goals. StrongBoy continues to be an enthusiastic big brother to TBM. TBM will play well by himself for a while, but then he gets bored and starts agitating for more Excitement and Adventure.