Yarn Along: Cabled Blanket and Small Town Adventuring.

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Joining the Yarn Along today at the Small Things blog.

Knitting: I’m progressing on my Cascade Eco Blanket. I adore the soft, natural colored yarn, but I can’t decide if I love it more than the pattern that’s appearing. I really love that too. I never understood why people knit blankets, but I have a better idea now. I am not spending my time looking for projects and buying yarn, I’m just happily knitting a few rows each night (most nights anyways), cabling once every 18 of them. That’s grand.

Reading: I’m thrilled to pieces that Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is a movie and intend to go see it! I read the book when it was first released and loved every snotty remark Mr. Bryson delivers. He can pack a hilarious punch and left a life-time desire for me to pack in and out of some trail with the boys sometime. Anyhow, this nostalgia sparked my current read, also by Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America.

I keep texting my friend photos of lines I’m reading because they are too delightful to enjoy alone. Seriously, this man just puts it all out there. This book is about his random travels through small American towns and his musings along the way. He starts in Des Moines, IA , where he was born, with plenty of fun poking at small town people. From there he rambles to his (not-anymore) grandparents house and from there just kind of wandered.

Some random snarky passages:

“A sign just ahead of me said BUCKLE UP. ITS THE LAW IN ILLINOIS. Clearly, however, it was not an offense to be unable to punctuate”

“‘You parked on the square?” she said. Actually, she said, “You pocked on the skwaya?'”

“The average Southerner has the speech patterns of someone slipping in and out of consciousness. I can change my shoes and socks faster than most people in Mississippi can speak a sentence.”

I enjoy Bill Bryson, but I do think I like small town living much more. I hope he comes around a bit in this book, but until then I’ll just file him under “city-lover” and laugh at his insights.

Have you read any of his books? I saw In A Sunburned Country and thought that might be good.

Favorite Books.

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The boys told me that our book selection is basically terrible. We had thinned out a bunch of the “little” kid stories, but I always saved their favorites. So, when we sat and tidied the shelf, I was shocked to hear:

“George – get rid of it, we hate him.”

“WHAT?” My heart lurched. “You would BEG me to read that entire book, there are six different stories in there. You’d make me read every one, sometimes twice.”

Shrugs from the boys.

“Hate this one.” What? Magic School Bus? On the discard pile?

And so on. Enter a “we hate” before a treasured childhood book, rip moms heart out, repeat.

How can this be? What is happening here? This is insanity. They begged me to read these stories time and again. I’d leave dishes in the sink, clothes unfolded, floors unswept, to snuggle and read these exact books.

Sigh. It’s natural human progression happening here and I have no power to stop it. Well, I have a little power. I’ll make a list of their ten favorite toddler/preschool years stories to somehow preserve them and I’ll box those books away to soothe my soul. Their trash, my treasure. (If you’ve followed my tidying posts, yes, these books are getting stored, yes, they “spark joy.”) Don’t get me wrong though, I adore that I can read them Jurassic Park and they actually understand it. It’s all part of this growing journey.

Anyhow, in no specific order, here are the ten most read stories I could have recited by heart a few years ago, which will sadly now be in our garage in a plastic tote.

1. Curious George: You name it, we read it, vintage George, new George, even in Spanish George. Curious George stories were well-loved and received. The New Adventures of Curious George will stay in my box forever.

2. Magic School Bus: I loved Miss Frizzle as a child and loved reading the vintage copies as an adult. The boys enjoyed At the Waterworks and Lost in the Solar System the most.

3. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. I adore the front and back inside cover illustration. It reminds me so much of my older son who would carry and wear canning jar rings on his arms as a toddler. The illustrations throughout are beautiful, the story adorable.

4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. I can totally get behind a book that plays on the insanity of raising a little one. The boys laughed at the silly demands of the mouse, while I laughed at how true this story could be.

5. The Glorious Flight Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice and Martin Provensen. This book is a fabulous motivator. When the kiddos were struggling with failed attempts we’d remember Louis Bleriot who just wouldn’t give up.

6. Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni. This book came to us second-hand and tattered. I always thin out books, but somehow, even beat up, this one never made it out the door. Simple friendship and color mixing make a quick, nice story to enjoy.

7. What is Your Language by Debra Leventhal. “What is your language, please tell me now…” Oh sorry, the title made me go into a little a chant. Yup, read this one a LOT. My younger fella particularly enjoyed it. The refrain repeats for multitudes of languages. I guess he liked to hear me try to speak Japanese?

8. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Another rhymer. I adore the vintage illustrations. The boys enjoyed the story.

9. Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. My younger son is always there to point out that books with medals on the covers are the winners. (He is also known to draw medals on his own books.) Mirette is a young daring girl ready to take on the high wire and help a man who loses faith in his ability.

10. Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer. Another load of books I loved as a girl and saw the humor in as an adult. Mercer Mayer’s books made quick reads. We loved and owned many of them. I kept the mom one for obvious reasons.

It’s not all sigh and sad though, some loved books made it back on the shelf. In fact, my younger son has followed me around the house with Mine-O-Saur, this week, because we sorted through and it’s been found. I’ll probably share those someday, but I’m okay if it’s in a few years.

Walking.

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My best friend sent me an article last week (that her husband found) about the benefits of exercising, specifically the benefits for your brain by simply walking. I recommend the quick read. I was particularly interested in the experiment that provided “mental” stimulation but no exercise vs. the exercise only group.

When my boys get stuck in a bickering mode, I like to start fresh. I try to separate them and get them interested in something new. I forgot that when they were little and we were all cranky the usual solution was to go for a walk down our very, very long gravel driveway. The cows, flowers, pond, and occasional milk truck would dissolve our annoyances. This article reminded me of that power.

Seems not only our muscles and heart want the motion, but our brain does too. Walking is a powerful mood lifter. In fact, the term hiking comes from hill walking, something encouraged in the UK after World War I, to lift the spirits of war dampened souls. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, something we’ve done since the beginning of human existence. Linking it to good feelings may have come later, but who knows?

I took the kids walking (hiking?) last week down a dry creek bed. Our walks are different now. It’s not the powerful discovery’s of a 2-year-olds chubby fingers showing me dried corn cobs from last year’s combine harvest. Now we discuss the best NASCAR drivers or share the distinct pleasure from balancing properly across the narrow log bridge. The boys grow, the chatter changes, but still, we shall walk on.

Firsts.

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The boys and I had some firsts this week.

Little fella found his very first fossil (the neighbor boy found the other). I’ve heard they are very easy to find in our area, but we haven’t had luck as of yet. He brought them in the other night and forgot to show me until the next day. I was so excited for our professed future paleontologist. I told him we need to box and label those so he can look back upon them one day as his very first find. (And if he doesn’t go the paleontologist route, hey, that’s cool too.)

My older fella finished his very first chapter book. 95 pages. Robinson Crusoe. According to him “It was fine.” I’m delighted he pressed through such a long title. He’s not the lay around and read type, so this is an accomplishment! Congrats kiddo. He’s onto a WWII choose your own adventure title next.

For me, I’m continuing on my first knitted blanket. The cabling is coming along beautifully. I’m in love with the yarn and blanket pattern.

Old dogs, new tricks. Firsts fun.

Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang.

rejectionproofbyjiajiangpailandpie1A brief description touted a man on a quest for rejections to rise above his usual fearful response. That sounded intriguing. I started reading.

The pages started flipping quickly. I followed as Jia Jiang attacks his fears in a remarkable way, he seeks it out daily. On his journey of 100 days of rejections, including asking someone to plant a flower in their yard, asking for a job for a day, asking strangers to take money from him, and so on, he transforms.

What started out as a way to overcome his personal rejections, changed this man into a walking fear laboratory. He starts to tweak his questions and boldly asks why he got a no. Then he starts to understand where no comes from and why to never take it personally.

While this book is sold as a business guide, I must say it does a darn good lot to explain anxiety in general. It was very entertaining for me and the boys to read through and apply to our average everyday. In fact, the other day I was explaining a concept to them in the car and the next day my older son said, “Mom, you’ll never believe this. When my friend didn’t want to play racing, I used the idea from the book and it worked. He said okay.” (Don’t worry, it’s not mind manipulation or anything.)

I bet children get told no more than anyone else. Whatever my boys picked up from this title will be valuable for life.

I seriously encourage you to check out his entertaining website complete with the 100 days of rejection he filmed along the way. The boys and I enjoyed his inspiring journey.

(Blogging for Books provided this title in exchange for an honest review.)

Yarn Along: Cabled Blanket and Jurassic Park.

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Joining the Yarn Along today at the Small Things blog.

Knitting: I started on a cabled blanket, my very first blanket ever. I lifted my “no blanket” ban for this pattern that was too beautiful to pass up. I can see why the pattern designer selected Cascade Eco Yarn. It’s so soft and pliable, not one bit scratchy. Soft, woolen, cabled… can you imagine anything better this winter? At four skeins, this should go by pretty quickly, but the pattern is enjoyable, so speed isn’t necessary.

Reading: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I am a huge Michael Crichton fan and I think Jurassic Park is one of his best. The science and genetics in this book fascinate me. When the boys asked to see Jurassic World, I told them I’d read them Jurassic Park instead. Dear Husband’s eyes lit up. He wanted to hear as well. As usual, there is more depth and scope in the book than the movie. The science isn’t explained away to get to an action scene, instead it’s celebrated and challenged. I am loving it as much this read through as the first time.

(Note: My knitting bag has found a home. Inspired by The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I learned the floor should not be storage. Oooh, um, guilty. My knitting bag is all around the house. Not anymore! I found a nice little nook. I’m really enjoying her tidying lessons.)

Yarn Along: Natural Navigator and Lulu Scarf

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Joining the Yarn Along today at the Small Things blog (and we found a turtle.)

Knitting: My Lulu scarf is about 75% done. I am knitting this scarf because I thought it looked pretty in the book and I had the yarn on hand, now I am getting excited to see what it looks like on. Let me tell you though, I had a really eye-opening weekend while listening to the audio book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s making me think deeper about what I choose to knit next. It’s making me much more open to knitting larger projects because I don’t need more stuff, I just love knitting. Quickly knitting small things creates clutter, yes I have to stop knitting hats. So I’m very excited to finally attack a blanket! I have a beautiful one in mind and I don’t care how long it takes to finish, I’m just excited to enjoy more knitting.

Reading: The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley. I’m thrilled to soak in any information I can from this title. We LOVE hiking and hike often. The author mentions how we filter visual information because we just see way too much to need. He then mentions how we don’t particularly “need” these cues for navigation anymore because our lives don’t depend on it. Finally, he says, he’s not going to just share tips and tricks, he’s going to teach how to see the cues again. Oooh, I’m excited. I’m 50 pages in and ready to have my eyes wide open.

 

Yarn Along: Country Love, Fortune’s Rocks, and A Knitted Scarf.

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Joining the Yarn Along today at the Small Things blog.

Knitting: I decided I’d be part of the photos today. It was an off the cuff decision, so it’s me, natural, unprepared, funky hair and shiny skin. I guess I’m just feeling brave today. Anyhow, I’m stash busting with Mel Clark’s adorable Lulu Scarf. The pattern is a great summer knit, requiring no counting per row and a very easy memorizable pattern. Her book Knitting Everyday Finery is definitely my favorite knitting book I own. I adore almost all the patterns included. This is my third project from the book.

Read: Bingo Night at the Fire Hall by Barbara Holland. It honors musings from a city girl gone country. Isolated, bored, but then eventually settled and fiercely protective, Barbara Holland puts into words everything that makes the country life so sacred. Of all the places I’ve ever lived, I’ve never felt as comfortable as in the country house ten miles from a small town of under 2,000 people. It was really cool to see Ms. Holland’s honest transformation and shared feelings.

Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve came to me from the discarded free bin at the local used book store. I’ve read two of Anita Shreve’s book prior and really enjoyed them as well, The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water. After Fortune’s Rocks, she is definitely on my list of favorite authors. I’m pleased she wrote many more titles.

Anyhow, Fortune’s Rocks is a mess of a story about a girl and an older wedded man set in the early 1900’s. Olympia Biddleford shocks her family when a she breaks up a marriage and fiercely stands by her decision to do so. Of course, the suitor also has to own up to his decision, but throughout the book, neither say it was a mistake. I was very pleased how the story progressed and very happy with the ending.

The writing not only focused on the well to do families of the time, but also on the poor. I liked reading about the societal separation.

Anita Shreve writes stories that are new, unpredictable, and nothing short of fabulous. I cannot wait to read another.

Go Ahead and Like It.

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I was thinking my oldest son is ready for some daily journaling. He’s done plenty of copywork. He’s ready to start writing what he wants to. In that spirit I requested a copy of Go Ahead and Like It by Jacqueline Suskin, which promised writing prompts. I was hoping the book would be chock full of little questions he could answer in 3-5 sentences to finish up this school season and to start into the next. It was not. Instead it was a teeny tiny bit full of four suggestions that may spark some lists.

Once I wrapped my mind around what this book is, a pretty, hardly any text included whatsoever book to inspire little bits of happiness on tough days, then we just went with that. I’ll continue my journaling search elsewhere. (Any suggestions?)

In the interim we have created a few lists of things we like. It’s nice to see them challenged beyond the four things they listed first (above.) As we continue making lists every week or so we are revealing new things, deeper things, not just the things we always quote as our favorites or things we can easily see.

The intentions of this book are very deep. They are encouraging you to see happiness in mundane situations. To clue in on the beautiful flowers while you are stuck in traffic, for instance. It’s a very nice sentiment to share with my boys. However, this book had so much potential, could have gotten incredibly inspiring, and instead… just stopped.

It’s the type of book that will pass hand to hand to bolster moods between friends. While it didn’t even come close to my original expectations, we are still writing lists for school time. I hope this is a habit that will stick with us for years to come.

Go Ahead & Like It by Jacqueline Suskin.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.)

Yarn Along: Tudors, Three Cups of Tea, and Bluebird of Happiness.

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Joining the Yarn Along today at the Small Things blog.

Knitting: A recent conversation with my brother helped me figure out what knits he’d like, toys for his cats. He didn’t exactly ask for them, but I haven’t knit him anything yet and as he was telling me funny stories about his cats I could tell he really loves them. So I decided knits for the cats it will be! I made Bluebird of Happiness with some recycled Sari Silk yarn, a Squishie, and Accidental Toy. I tried using wild yarns to attract the cats, time will tell if they like them. I’m not a cat owner so I figured if I made three, maybe one would work out? I’m betting on the Squishie. It is wispy eyelash yarn, with a bell in the middle, all sorts of cat fun. He told me he’s sure they will be fine, the cats play with anything, even twist ties. I’m handing them off this weekend.

Reading: I just finished up The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. It’s the story of Katherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife. I learned she married Henry’s older brother first, Arthur, who died shortly afterwards. She resided in England as a Dowager Princess (widowed princess) until she made the move to marry again. It was so painful to learn about her miscarriages and babies who died shortly after they were born. At a time when medicine was so lacking, her ability to overcome these repeated deaths, physically and emotionally, is tremendous. I read elsewhere there is current speculation that King Henry had a disease that created these repeated miscarriages and infant deaths with her and Anne Boleyn. That’s quite an interesting tangent I should like to read much more about.

Transitioning, I finally got a copy of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin. I’ve been interested in reading it since I first saw it released. Last night after I read some, I looked up Greg Mortenson. Unfortunately, I read he took one million dollars from his charity for his own use and is paying it back, and was removed from running the charity. I read a little more about how this book is “doctored” and not quite “reality” and sighed. I think I still will read on. I’m sure there is some good that came out of his schools. If the guy built one school, I think that’s amazing. If his numbers aren’t quite truthful, at least I feel something good and lasting did come of it. If you have any more info on this, I’d sure like to know.