Monday, January 30, 2012

MauldenNews January 2012

No pictures this fatigue from Christmas, perhaps? Sorry, you'll have to use your imaginations...

Every new year brings new experiences, some anticipated, some not. A few things that were new for us this month:

- We started speech therapy with Sam. He tends to "stutter" when he gets excited, only I didn't really recognize it or think of it as stuttering.... he often repeats a whole word or phrase several times, often at the end of a sentence more than the beginning....anyway, we are learning and playing new games at home, and Sam is happy to have new ways to earn lollipops.

- Alle's new thing is selling Girl Scout cookies for the first time. She had her whole sales spiel memorized and performed it for all the neighbors and anyone who would listen. She even told everyone what cookies she thought they should buy. She really wanted to earn the prize for selling 1000+ boxes...funny how they have NO idea what is realistic at this age. 

For some reason being the mom of a Girl Scout feels like such a new and foreign phase of parenthood to me. But it's good. I like her cute little Daisy troop and I feel very domestic when I iron the patches on her uniform.  We sold 61 boxes and I took the opportunity to order all the kinds I had never ordered before. Now I need an excuse to have a cookie party.

- We tried a couple new foods this month -  fresh fennel (in salad with oranges & red bell peppers) and parsnips (julienned and roasted with rosemary and thyme). I thought both were good, even though I'm not a big fan of anise flavor. Why a green bulb should taste like black licorice is beyond me. Sometimes it's like a game to find new stuff in the produce section, since a lot of it is not labeled, at least here. It's also fun to stump the checkout person when buying weird vegetables. Next time I might try rutabaga if I get brave.

- I've taken a break from running and instead I'm doing a new workout routine called P90X. I'm 3+ weeks into the 90-day program. It's a good change and good for core and overall fitness... The strategy is "muscle confusion" ... I think I'm successfully confusing my muscles. I was skeptical about the kenpo kickboxing, but I'm even enjoying pretend-punching and kicking more than I thought I would. 

- Status update on my 21-day challenge: I'm still at it! My wristband is wearing thin, but my complaining frequency has definitely gone down. Yay! It's amazing how automatic complaining is for me. Sometimes I just can't think of anything to say that's not a criticism or complaint so I am learning to quiet. I liked what one finisher said - when we keep our complaints quiet, it's easier to hear God speak to us. 

- I'll close as usual with my Book Pick of the month: Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. The author grew up Jewish and is now Christian. Really liked her interesting perspective on Jewish practices like keeping Sabbath, lighting candles, mourning, prayer and others. 

- May you all be happy and at peace. Keep in touch.


Friday, January 13, 2012

MauldenNews December 2011

Greetings and Happy New Year to all!

This year, I read a book about unplugging the Christmas machine. It inspired me to scale down and slow down. We did a bit less and I think we enjoyed things a bit more. We celebrated Advent with a wreath and candles this year, as well as the traditional Advent calendars. Sam went on a binge one night about mid-December (unsupervised) and ate all his remaining advent calendar chocolates. Alle took the opposite approach and saved them up for days. Two different approaches to life.

We celebrated the halfway point of the school year with a little "Awards Dinner" for the kids. Alle got prizes for honesty and truth telling, becoming a super reader, and overcoming stage fright (joined her class in the school Christmas program this year). Sam earned his seatbelt award (he buckles and unbuckles independently), as well as awards for awesome dancing and unbridled enthusiasm for life.

Other holiday stuff- we tried baking new cookies - Dutch spice cookies (speculaasjes or windmill cookies) and my new favorite, Nigerian sesame seed cookies. We made a lemon raspberry birthday cake for Jesus too.

We had a wonderful Christmas - in fact, we had two. We opened gifts at home and then flew to Little Rock to spend a week with Bryan's side of the family. It was wonderful to reconnect with them and they were very gracious hosts, especially when our plane was delayed and we ended up staying 3 days longer than planned. We sure soaked up the sunshine and warm weather. I enjoyed bird (and squirrel) watching, especially the cardinals, downy woodpeckers and others we don't see in Utah. I even saw my first great blue heron while running on a wooded trail by a stream near the house. I love Utah, but I have to admit I could handle Arkansas winters!

I've been listening to a series of essays called "This I Believe" on NPR - the idea is to summarize your core beliefs in a few hundred words. The series includes a number of essays by famous Americans from the 1950s, when the concept was first introduced and the essays read on the radio. (Examples: Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, etc.) There are also essays written by ordinary people in the present day.

I have yet to write my essay, but here are a few things I believe in:

I believe that even in the digital age, books still make some of the very best Christmas presents.

I believe in spending time with your family at Christmas.

I believe little boys and their daddies need to stick together.

I believe creativity and artistry are innate and to be enjoyed by all.

I believe in surrounding ourselves with beauty. Thanks again to Chris Allec for this masterpiece. I feel serene just looking at it.

I believe in SLEEP!

Last but not least, I believe in reading good books. My pick of the month is called Sabbath by Wayne Muller. This is one of those treasures you have to read slowly and savor. There's a lot of wisdom behind the concept of a set-apart time for rest. May you all experience the joy of finding the right rhythm between work and rest  in 2012.