Monday, February 18, 2013

the blahs

It's hard in February to not get blah. It's just so...blah out there. My husband and kids love the snow, but I need sunshine. Lately I've been trying to get the kids and I outside, even if just for a half hour at a time to play in the snow/puddles/mud and get fresh air and sunshine, or at least some cloud-covered natural light. I need the light so much and tend to get a bit morose and overtired a little too easily; a bit despairing over the tiniest task that needs to be done; a bit not filled with the joy that a life with Christ can reflect.

I know I'm not alone in this, but that doesn't necessarily help me feel better...it's just hard to see anything other than my grey-tinted world I've created. Also, I tend to project how others feel and what they think of me in completely negative ways, so I always end up a disappointment or a nitwit. It's hard for me to remember what is truth without feelings backing it up.

I've been praying a lot, and it's really good, and God is really good, whether I feel like He is or not. I've also been sleeping a lot, which is strangely not helping me feel more energetic, but more slothful...making me feel more depressed that I might as well be cleaning or doing something useful if I'm going to be tired anyway.

Ugh. Anyone have tips on beating the winter blues? I find myself standing near windows of streaming sunshine, eating healthy, praying and giving up my moods to the Creator of them. Need to be working out, maybe that can happen soon, because that helps me tremendously. I've been putting lavender essential oil on my scarves (supposed to battle fatigue?)...your tips?


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

pictures of small children...

(from earlier this winter...a lesson in seizing the moment...)

"say cheese!"



"ok, one more..."


"never mind."


Saturday, February 09, 2013

ready....

I think I am feeling better about "Una Voce..." I have been practicing for the last few weeks, working specifically on what my voice teacher hammered away at the last few times I saw her (in APRIL! ugh...but, funds are desperately needed elsewhere)...

"...sing ON the BREATH, now..."(duh...but apparently easy for me to forget, as in, sadly not subconscious yet)

"watch your posture!"

"keep it even and open all the way down..."

This makes this aria (which we worked on pretty hard, actually) SO. MUCH. EASIER.

Never mind that I was never singing the coloratura the way I was supposed to ("too much breath escaping and tension, my dear!")...while I was worried that maybe my whole singing identity had been wrong - she just helped hone it to a new level. I am by no means what I consider 'great' at it yet (especially with staging and candenzas)...but I feel much better about the fact that I am performing it at a pretty great concert at the end of May/beginning of June.

I saw the "set list" for this concert, and oh my. I am very excited to hear some of these singers sing some of these pieces. If you are in the area, forget what I said earlier about not coming to see me. Come to see/hear me sing and hear these other amazing people. It will be recorded as well, as it is the company's 10th anniversary special event concert, so you could order a copy!

I still have some work to do, but I don't feel quite so frightened now. :)

(by the way...I've been singing this aria since 10 years ago. You'd think I could do this with my eyes closed by now. Alas, my voice has gone through so many changes, it feels like a new approach each time. And, for those of you who sing, if you've had something in your voice before, you know how hard it is to fight the habits you used to have with it. I'm just grateful it's feeling natural again, because before meeting my new (-ish) teacher...I was questioning everything I had ever known about singing coloratura, which had kinda been my wheelhouse through college. Anyway...aside over. :) Why didn't I just make this a real paragraph instead of putting it in parentheses, you might be asking yourself - I know you English major people at least are mocking my lack of writing skills...well, I don't know. But I'm going to make it as awkwardly long as possible, just so you cringe a bit more.)

I believe I've posted this before, but why would I not remind us:




Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Isaac



We wake most mornings to a frantic, somewhat unendearing "ma-maaaaaaaaaa!" every morning.

Yet stumble into his room to a pair of eyes twinkling above his crib edge as he dares us to wake up and greet the day.

He is love and need wrapped up in one compact little person. He is demanding and open. He is all emotion and learning grace.

(Yes, that's a black eye. No, it was not our fault.  He decided to dance with a coffee table.)

 I see him constantly asking for more from those he loves with his entire being: his Mama, his Dada, his 'Miah.

"Pwease?" he says so sweetly - be it for yet again more food, or another dump truck story, or playing in the fort for the 5th hour today.

Dada is most definitely the favorite.  And his truck.

The joy of each moment is so easily read in his face. He is happiest when we are all home together, and will often just stop to tell one of us all of our names and then grin wildly and bury his head in our shoulders.

He loves trains, cars, trucks, and buses, and FOOD - especially chicken soup and granola with yogurt.



He asks for "jesus" every night for our bedtime song. I pray He will seek Him and for God to capture his heart.

He is continually a source of surprise that challenges my easily formed stereotype of who he is and reminds me to extend grace and open hands to all people in my life.

gotta have the bathtub picture.  Tastefully cropped, of course. :)

He does not sleep well, instead seeming to sense when someone new is here to visit, or when anything at all needs to be done without his knowledge...this is the time to wake up and need a snuggle.

He is a boys' boy with the best of them, with the most beautiful lovey spirit whose eyes check with mama before embarking on his next hair-brained adventure with his cohort older brother.


Isaac, you are indeed "laughter." You are quite an adventure, and we all love having you part of our lives.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

green and simple

As some of you know, I am really getting into saving energy and green-ifying my (our) life as a young family. I really like most of the concepts of living simply, "green-ly" as our society calls it.

About a year ago, I wrote the following about changing to live more naturally: 

 If I could do it (which we just don't have money for some of this...unfortunate since it wouldn't cost much to do some of these things, and money is at least part of my motivation for simplifying), I would:

- get completely energy efficient appliances everywhere
- make all my own linens
- create a huge vegetable garden for spring and then fall, and can and freeze everything
- buy all organic meats and dairy
- convert J's truck into one of those machines that runs on leftover restaurant oil (he's also into this, but it would cost a heck of a lot up front)
- get solar panels put into our roof (would have to wait for our own house for this one)
- catch all the rainwater in barrels for our garden so the water wouldn't go to waste
- dry all our clothes out on the clothesline, or maybe just sometimes and have them dry inside most of the time when my allergies are too bad
- use cloth diapers
- use natural cleaning solutions: salt, baking soda, lemons, vinegar, etc 
- treat illnesses more naturally - garlic, vinegars, broth, whole food eating, probiotics, etc.

I have actually begun to do some of these things over the last year or so, which is exciting:

We really strive to not eat much, if any, processed food, and I make most of our food now - whole food eating.  I really think this is better for the young'uns, and we haven't been too sick since doing this more regularly.  We are also taking probiotics and taking daily cod liver oil, which is supposed to be great as a source of Vitamin D and as a boost to your immune system.  The kids have been great about it...I think it's been a gradual shift anyway over the years to this, so there's not too much of a change.  We also try to eat organic, although that gets a bit pricey.  But it's more do-able than it used to be!

We used cloth diapers for a while because I was borrowing from a friend.  But then she found out she was pregnant again, and asked for them back.  I have not ponied up the funds to get more at this point, but I still would like to cloth diaper.  I am also interested in doing gradual early potty training, but we'll see about that.  I think I should've started by now if i was going to do that.  I make my own wipes too, using this recipe - and they work great.

I clean naturally sometimes.  It's not an all-the-time thing, but it is sort of as I run out of cleaning supplies, I just replace it with a natural solution, and I find they clean well. Pinterest is a great resource for this. Vinegar, salt, lemons, and baking soda - all I need, apparently.

Also, medicinally - I have begun using essential oils a lot.  Eucalyptus oil is pretty amazing - fights congestion in noses and cold and flu viruses.  Although I am not above tylenol or motrin if really needed.  However, I have become a big believer in preventative techniques...like eating raw garlic regularly, taking probiotics, whole food eating, and cod liver oil (as mentioned above).  As a family, we got sick with a light flu-like thing in September, and have really not gotten a big sickness all winter.  Sniffles, coughs, and light fevers on occasion, but they never developed into anything serious.  Jon got the flu over Christmas vacation, but -he wasn't taking any of the above stuff, so...

I pretty much hang our clothes to dry now, instead of using the dryer.  As long as I have the loads spread out over the week, it works.  This is mostly a money reason...I read that the dryer is one of the appliances that takes the most energy.

Lastly, I did have a tomato and herb garden this past summer.  And it was edible.  I plan on doing it again next summer and maybe adding cucumbers, since Jeremiah loves them.  And I can try some pickling!

The other ambitions from that post are, admittedly, a big undertaking.  (solar panels?  A used-oil energy efficient truck conversion?) But, they are something I am interested in as a concept.

Any tips/tricks/ideas that you have to offer?